Every year we see the big red plastic models of Santa Claus rolled out of the store-cupboard and stood next to tins of shortbread biscuits and jars of stuff we wouldn’t buy for the rest of the year. Sometimes, he even plays the saxophone and dances.
His big, jolly, rotund face is everywhere, isn’t it? He is in movies, books and songs. People love dress up as him. Santa is a big deal!
People want him to be real so badly that it almost feels as if he is. But, what lots of people don’t know is that Santa Claus, Père Noel (or whatever you want to call him), whilst not a real person is certainly based on a real and genuine person from history. Wayne Taylor writes,
“There was a man named Nicholas who lived in the Roman Province of Asia (now the country of Turkey) in the fourth century A.D.
People called him Saint Nicholas because he lived a devout, Christian life from an early age.
It is believed that the name Santa Claus came from the Dutch translation of his name, Sinter Klaas.”
Saint Nicholas was a generous man. The most famous story about him involves Nicholas giving money to three daughters of a poor man (supposedly into their stocking hanging by their bed) so that the girls could get married.
Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith by the Roman Emperor Diocletian when serving as Bishop of Myra, but was released when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. He resumed his faithful and fervent Christian life until the end.
“Saint Nicholas was a real man and was filled with the spirit of joy and giving, because he believed not in a myth but in the divine Savior”.
So the big, fat, jolly man in the red suit may star in the movies, may have flying fantasy animals, but is a myth. Saint Nicholas, on the other hand, was a real person who gave himself freely to others because of his faith in a Divine Saviour who gave Himself freely once and for all.
What a great example for us this Christmas season.