Hey parents, here’s a cheery yuletide story, or even a winter vacation, to give to your kids. Why not take them to Demre, Turkey to see the very grave of Santa Claus! Ho ho ho! Or even better yet, head on over to the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy to see some of his remaining bones (stolen from his grave in 1087 by Italian sailors to protect them from Muslim invaders) where they spontaneously leak a clear liquid once a year said to have miraculous healing powers! Presumably CHRISTMASY healing powers.
What child wouldn’t be filled with joy to be in the same room with ol’ Saint Nick? He doesn’t have much of a lap left anymore but I think you could probably fit three or four of the tykes on top of the tomb at once. That’ll get that interminable line moving.
Ok, enough of my Grinchiness. The myth (sorry kids) of Santa Claus evolved from Saint Nicholas who was revered among many different Christian groups. He was a Bishop and a strict Orthodox Christian who was present at the First Council of Nicaea which was gathered to establish the church’s position on canonical law as relating to the Bible, including setting the date of Easter. Thus adding further fire to the great Santa Claus vs Easter Bunny rivalry. Arrgh, just kidding, I’ll settle down…
St Nicholas was a real, erm, saint of a guy according to legend. Apparently he was really into secret gift-giving and many of the stories about him center around this aspect. He also took on a serial child killing butcher and resurrected his victims, but that is given a bit less credence by historians. Regardless. his legend evolved, as legends do and from his Dutch name “Sinterklaas” and Saint Nicholas Day (Dec 5th) celebrated there, mixed with a bit of the Norse Odin, the British Father Christmas, and sizable doses of highly-motivated capitalists, we get the Santa Claus as we know him today in shopping malls across the world!