A legend for the elderly, and a wonderful reality for the little ones , Santa Claus is one of the pillars of Christmas in much of the world. Despite its conception as a pagan character and also the fruit of consumption, its origin is Christian and associated with charity. Its history dates back to the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, even before the Middle Ages, when a bishop was born and lived who would become a saint and, over the years, Santa Claus himself. This is Saint Nicholas of Bari, born in 280 AD south of what we know today as Turkey. The story of Santa Claus is very beautiful, and we can share part of it with our children , without losing the magic of his arrival every year.
THE STORY OF SANTA CLAUS
Saint Nicholas came from a wealthy family, but since childhood he was known for his enormous generosity, since he helped the poorest a lot . His parents died from the plague when he was 19 years old, so he decided to donate all the goods and money he had inherited to those in need, and was ordained a priest in the same order where his uncle was bishop. Over the years, he came to replace him, after his death, in the position of bishop of Myra , and continued doing charitable actions with those who were poorer than him.
ITS HISTORY DATES BACK TO THE 3RD CENTURY AD WHEN SAINT NICHOLAS OF BARI WAS BORN
The reason Nicholas was named a saint and became such a popular character is because of the miracles attributed to him, such as, for example, he is said to have resurrected a group of three children who had been tragically murdered. He also freed three generals who were going to be unjustly sentenced to death, and once some sailors, in the middle of a storm, prayed to God and Saint Nicholas to save them, and they said that the bishop appeared on the ship and He calmed the waters, which is why he is the patron saint of sailors in many places, as well as the patron of many cities and countries.
Saint Nicholas died on December 6, 345 AD , the day the festival in his honor, called Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas), is celebrated in many European countries. In the year 550 a temple was built in the same city of Rome in his honor, and over the years more were created in other parts of the world. In the East he is known as San Nicolás de Myra, the city where he lived and died, but in the West it is called San Nicolás de Bari. This is because in the year 1087, when the Muslims invaded Turkey, a group of Christians took his relics from Myra and secretly transferred them to the city of Bari, in Italy, where it is said that more miracles attributed to him took place. .
On Sinterklaas day , December 6, children in many parts of Europe have, for centuries, left a shoe near the fireplace that night, and Saint Nicholas is said to fill it with sweets and gifts. Over the years, the figure of Saint Nicholas became that of the current Santa Claus.
The current legend tells that Santa Claus or Santa Claus lives in Santa’s Village, located at the North Pole , with his wife, Mrs. Claus or Noel. There, a lot of Christmas elves help him make the toys that he will later distribute to the children in his sack. They send him letters from all over the world to tell him what they want as a gift, and Santa Claus reads them. Then, every night from December 24 to 25, he travels in a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer through all the houses where they ask for gifts, which he enters through the chimney or the window. The children leave him a glass of milk and cookies so that he and his reindeer regain strength.
CURRENT LEGEND PLACES HIM LIVING AT THE NORTH POLE
The Dutch, who had a very great devotion to Saint Nicholas, brought this Sinterklaas festival to the United States when they colonized New York (in its day called New Amsterdam), and, over time, it spread throughout the country. Various North American authors and illustrators wrote stories about this character and gave him a different appearance each time, in addition to adding details, such as the sleigh and the reindeer. At first it looked more like a leprechaun, but at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century it already took on its current appearance.: an older man, with a long white beard, heavyset, and in a red and white suit. The party from December 6 was also passed to the night of the 24th, to make it coincide with Christmas, and thus it began to be associated with this party.
SANTA CLAUS IN THE WORLD
In the countries of Europe where the feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated are the Netherlands and Belgium, and it is also done, although to a lesser extent, in Luxembourg (where it is known as Kleeschen), Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and the Republic Czech (known as Mikulá?). However, in some of them this character has been divided into two: On the one hand, Saint Nicholas and on the other, Santa Claus (Kerstman for the Dutch), who distributes gifts on Christmas Day. Curiously, in Holland the legend has survived over the years that Saint Nicholas goes from Spain to give gifts to children , specifically from Alicante, the city of which he is the patron and in which there is a church in his honor.
SAINT NICHOLAS, FATHER CHRISTMAS, SANTA CLAUS, … ARE OTHER OF THEIR NAMES
In each area, and even in each home, the way of living this legend is different, but, generally, the way of welcoming this character is the same. Children leave their socks in the fireplace or different places in the house, and Santa Claus or Father Christmas deposits in them sweets and small gifts, in addition to conventional gifts, after entering through the fireplace or window . Children do not usually know him, but in Finland it is customary for Santa Claus to knock on the door and they themselves go to greet him. In Russia it also knocks at the door of the house, although there it is not the classic Santa Claus who distributes the gifts, but Ded Moroz , or Grandfather of the Snow, who goes around the houses making deliveries with the help of his granddaughter Snegúrochka.
In different parts of the world it is another character and not Santa Claus who distributes the gifts, such as in Japan, China, Italy or Spain, where he lives with The Three Wise Men and Olentzero, who distributes them throughout the Basque Country and Navarra, or Uncle Nadal , that it does in Catalonia.