non-christians, from the title of this thread== you HAD TO KNOW what was coming... so why'd you even answer? and 2magnollia trees, i appreciate your sentiment, but for pete's sake, this is not the time of year to get a religion vs anti-religion thread started
but as long as we're on the subject,
Who is Santa Claus, anyway????
The Feast of Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, is an annual event which has been uniquely Dutch and Flemish for centuries. St. Nicholas' Feast Day, December 6th, is observed in most Roman Catholic countries primarily as a feast for small children. But it is only in the Low Countries - especially in the Netherlands - that the eve of his feast day (December 5th) is celebrated nationwide by young and old, christian and non-christian, and without any religious overtones.
Although Sinterklaas is always portrayed in the vestments of the bishop he once was, his status as a canonized saint has had little to do with the way the Dutch think of him. Rather, he is a kind of benevolent old man, whose feast day is observed by exchanging gifts and making good-natured fun of each other. It so happens that the legend of St. Nicholas is based on historical fact. He did actually exist. He lived from 271 A.D. to December 6th, 342 or 343. His 4th century tomb in the town of Myra, near the city of Anatolia in present-day Turkey, has even been dug up by archaeologists.
This is his story:
Born of a wealthy family, Nicholas was brought up as a devout Christian. When his parents died of an epidemic, he distributed his wealth among the poor and became a priest.
Later he became Archbishop of Myra, and it is from here that the fame of his good deeds began to spread across the Mediterranean. Desperate sailors who called upon the Good Bishop to calm stormy seas were heard; prison walls crumbled when victims of persecution prayed to him. He saved young children from the butcher's knife and dropped dowries into the shoes of penniless maidens. Over time, St. Nicholas became the patron saint of sailors and merchants, and especially of children. After his death, the cult of St. Nicholas spread rapidly via southern Italy throughout the rest of the Mediterranean and eventually to coastal towns along the Atlantic and the North Sea. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Holland built no fewer than 23 churches dedicated to St. Nicholas, many of which are still standing. Amsterdam adopted St. Nicholas as its patron saint, and Rome decreed that December 6th, the anniversary of his death, should be his official Feast Day.
St. Nicholas' strong influence in the Low Countries - an area heavily engaged in trade and navigation - was primarily due to his role as patron of sailors and merchants.
However, his fame as protector of children soon took precedence.
In the 14th century, choir boys of St. Nicholas churches were given some money and the day off on December 6th.
Somewhat later, the pupils of convent schools would be rewarded or punished by a monk dressed up as the Good Bishop, with his long white beard, his red mantle and mitre (bishop's hat) and his golden crosier (bishop's staff) - just as he is still presented today.
It were the Dutch settlers who brought St. Nicholas over to
New Amsterdam - USA.
you can learn more [and read the edited stuff] at:
I'm not trying to convert anyone, nor am I trying to denigrate my Christian brothers and sisters. But Santa Claus is
based on historical fact and Christian principle. IMO, in his day, St. Nick was probably thought of as a "Jesus freak" by nonbelievers. And we all know that December 25th was the estimated day of Jesus' birth.
I'm just tired of all the PC Christmas stuff, and tired of tiptoeing around everyone's religious beliefs when Christmas is one of the two distinctly Christian holidays of the year, the theme being Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men."
PEACE! GOODWILL! and have a happy holiday season, ALL OF YOU!
Happy Hanukah! to the Jewish of you!
and Happy Whatever You Celebrate (if anything-- thinking of micro's thanksgiving here :kiss ) to the rest!