Sunday, December 21, 2014

History of St. Nick + Santa Claus - #Christmas Traditions

I love doing posts about the origins of our holidays and the reasons we celebrate in certain ways or fear certain dates.  Some of my most popular posts have been on the Origin of Halloween, Finding Easter's Date, The Number 13, and Origins of Superstitions.

When my kids were younger, I taught Sunday fact, a passage from the Book of Genesis about the Nephilim, the offspring of male angels and human women, inspired my Young Adult Paranormal Romance DIVINE FALL.  For years, I taught the class every week, and my favorite lessons touched on the historical and religious roots of our holidays.  The lesson on Saint Nicholas was obviously something I made sure we discussed every December.  While most people are familiar with the story of Jesus's birth in Bethlehem, many are unaware of how a 4th century Bishop influenced the legend of Santa Claus.

Saint Nicholas, or Nikolaos of Myra, was a bishop in an ancient town in Lycia--now Demre, in the Antalya Province of Turkey.  One of his most well-known deeds involved giving unexpected gifts, one of which landed in a stocking.  In the story, Nicholas wanted to help three young girls, whose father had no money for their dowries.  At that point in history, such a fate would result in a life of prostitution. Not wanting to embarrass the poor father, Nicholas threw bags of gold coins through the windows.  In one version of the tale, the father laid in wait to discover who was doing this...and so instead of throwing the third bag through the window, Nicholas dropped it down the chimney, and it landed in a stocking hung to dry by the fire.

Sinterklaas rides
a white horse
The Dutch figure of Sinterklass is based upon Saint Nick, and he more resembles the white-bearded man in red we're all familiar with. In turn, our Santa Claus is derived from Sinterklass, and it's widely believed that he was introduced to North America around the time of the Revolutionary War, by inhabitants of New York City, which was once New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony.

Of course, many other sources have combined to shape both the modern-day image of Santa Claus and the various legends and traditions which have evolved (decorating trees, sleighs pulled by reindeer, winter feasts and festivals, etc.).  Those will be topics for another day and another blog!

I'm hoping my blog readers who celebrate Christmas have finished the gift-buying and food preparation that comes along with the holiday, and have some time to relax and enjoy the magic of the season.  And if you need a book to help you de-stress, check out one of my novels - each one is filled with romance, mystery, and suspense - something for everyone!  Also perfect as a last-minute gift, since all you need to send someone a Kindle copy is an email address.  Each one is less that the price of a card, and DIVINE FALL is only 99 cents right now!  The tabs at the top of the page will take you to the blurb for each book, but I've also included links below.  Happiest of holidays!

SILVER LAKE - A haunting, an old flame, and secrets from the past

GULL HARBOR - A dangerous ghost and an ex-boyfriend await Claire in Cape Cod's Gull Harbor

DIVINE FALL - Romance, Revenge, and a Rogue Fallen Angel

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