Did you know he was real? Did you know that today is his feast day?
Saint Nicholas was born in 260AD in Patara, a coastal town in what is now Turkey. The poor knew him throughout the land for his generosity, his love for children and being associated with ships, the sea and sailors. He was eventually consecrated Bishop of Myra, just miles from his hometown.
Our western tradition of Santa Claus and Father Christmas originates with the beloved saint. Many Christian churches and many countries observe December 6th, his feast day, with great celebrations, processions, services and gift giving.
Many legends surround his life. During the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian, Bishop Nicholas was imprisoned and tortured for his beliefs but he never forsook his faith. The new Emperor Constantine eventually released him. Tradition has it that Bishop Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 with many other bishops, a meeting that produced what we today call "The Nicene Creed".
The name St Nicholas lives in the hearts of people all over the world, young and old alike. His faith and his actions make remembering him important even in our day. He is our Santa Claus and Father Christmas, and we must remind people today of this fact. To this very day St Nicholas (Sinterklaas) arrives in Holland each November, dressed in a Christian Bishop's vestments, and rides through the streets to the enjoyment of thousands of onlookers, to begin his investigation into the behaviour of the children.
St Nicholas Day falls in the season of Advent and with the tradition of his bearing gifts, he became associated with Christmas as well.