Hey, all you good girls and boys!
Around this time of year, lots of folks start getting real excited about a magical visit that occurs on a special night from someone who goes by many names. He goes by Kris Kringle or Father Christmas, but he’s most commonly referred to as Santa. In the Netherlands, they call him Sinter Klaas.
But, of course, he initially went by just one name: Nicholas. Today is St. Nick’s Day—the perfect time to learn a little about how this little, old man got to be so world-famous!
The story begins a very long time ago (around the year 300) in a land called Lycia—which is present-day Turkey—across the Atlantic Ocean and sandwiched between the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Near the end of his childhood, poor Nicholas lost both of his parents to an epidemic that plagued the people of his home.
He went to go live with his uncle who was also named Nicholas and it was at this time that he began using his inheritance from his parents to help out the poor and sick people around his community. Back then, slavery wasn’t illegal and people could sell other people into ownership.
One of his most famous acts of kindness from his early days was inspired by Roman soldiers making a scene in the street. A poor woodcutter who had seen hard times met with even harder times when he told the soldiers that he was no longer going to be able to make his housing payments.
The soldiers told him that they would accept his three daughters in place of pay which was not acceptable to the woodcutter. The old man, however, had no real choice in the matter. Upon seeing the woodcutter in this desperate situation, Nicholas knew he had to help.
He had to keep his anonymity too—he didn’t want any attention from soldiers patrolling the streets. So Nicholas climbed his way to the rooftop of the woodcutter’s home and dropped enough bags of gold down the chimney that the woodcutter would be able to make his housing payment with a generous amount leftover!
Nicholas enjoyed helping people out so much, he made it his life’s purpose. Eventually he didn’t need to keep his anonymity for being so generous after he was appointed to be bishop, or so he thought. He did, however, end up imprisoned due to persecution against his faith for roughly 20 years!
When finally released, the Roman government had shifted its views on Christianity and Nicholas simply continued the life of goodwill he had started before his imprisonment. He was eventually made a saint for his boundless generosity.
Since he’s never stopped his tradition of giving, to this day, girls and boys find presents magically waiting for them on Christmas morning. Happy St. Nicholas Day and, as always, thanks for reading!