In the festive season of Christmas, we are involved in a lot of holiday season activities. From decorating homes, Christmas trees, shopping, and eagerly waiting for Santa Claus. But have you ever wondered where Santa Claus comes from? Well, anyone can tell you that Santa Claus comes from ‘The North Pole.’ But his archival journey is protracted and more sensational than his one-night, annual tour of the globe distributing Christmas gifts. The ancestor of the present-day American Santa took birth in the Mediterranean at the time of the Roman Empire, his folklore progressed across northern Europe, and he eventually presumed his now-familiar identity on the banks of the New World. Santa Claus is also popularly known as Father of Christmas, Kris Kringle, or just Santa. But who Santa Claus is? Let’s find out.
Who is Santa Claus?
The folklore of Santa Claus can be trailed back centuries to a monk called St. Nicholas. He is presumed to have been born 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra (Modern-day Turkey). He lost his parents at a very young age. He reportedly utilized what he inherited to help the sick and needy. Christianity being illegal under the Roman empire, St Nicholas prepared to become a priest and was in prison for his faith. However, St Nicholas was later elected Bishop of Myra, a city now known as Demre, after Emperor Constantine approves Christianity as a religion.
St Nicholas was famous for safeguarding his people from taxes and various oppressions. According to historical documents, St Nicholas averted the unjust execution of three loyal generals for treason. Another legend asserts that he brought three scholars back to life who was murdered and tucked away inside a pickling tub. He also prevented three girls from being sold into prostitution or slavery by their poverty-stricken father. People believe that St Nicholas continues to work miracles even after his death. His grave, beneath the flooring of his church, became a famous spot for pilgrims who beseeched St Nicholas to deliver their prayers to God.
The “manna” – holy oil or water – that dripped from the tomb served as a proof, they believed, that Nicholas was listening to their petitions. Pilgrims took this manna home in small bottles, or rags to sop up the liquid that trickled from the saint’s mausoleum in its underground crypt, a usual pilgrimage process at Christian sanctuaries. St Nicholas’ fame was spread along sea routes across the Mediterranean by the people who visited the coastal town of Myra. These words then traveled from Myra to the Latin West, and to Russia. Shortly, pilgrims from all over were going to Myra to pursue the gifts of healing and protection from St Nicholas, who was reportedly attentive and affectionate to children.
Traditions and Rituals
It is said that on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus will come to visit the homes of children while they are asleep. Santa arrives from the north pole (where he lives) on his sleigh with nine reindeer, namely Dancer, Dasher, Prancer, Comet, Cupid, Dunder, Blixem, Vixen and Rudolph – the rednosed reindeer. Santa enters their homes through the chimney if there are no chimneys then through the window. For the children who are well behaved and kind all round the year, he would leave little Xmas gifts for them in the stockings they have hung. For the ones not behaved well, he would leave a lump of coal (a myth, of course). In return, there would be Christmas plum cake, milk and cookies left for Santa to eat, and he would return wishing them in their sleep in his typical style, “Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas.”People also play songs like ‘Santa Claus is coming to town,’ ‘ Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer,’ ‘Santa Claus got stuck in my Chimney,’ and many more.
However, amidst all the celebrations, we must remember the real meaning and message of Santa Claus ( St Nicholas ), i.e., Care for the sick and poor, Love one another and share with people in need.
You may also want to read: 7 Unknown Facts About Santa Claus