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Where Did Santa Claus Come From?




Santa in Chimney According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Santa Claus started with a real person, Saint Nicholas, a minor saint from the fourth century.

According to tradition, he was born in the ancient Lycian seaport city of Patara, and, when young, he traveled to Palestine and Egypt. He became bishop of Myra soon after returning to Lycia. He was imprisoned during the Roman emperor Diocletian's persecution of Christians but was released under the rule of Emperor Constantine the Great and attended the first Council (325) of Nicaea.

After his death he was buried in his church at Myra, and by the sixth century his shrine there had become well known. In 1087, Italian sailors or merchants stole his alleged remains from Myra and took them to Bari, Italy; this removal greatly increased the saint's popularity in Europe, and Bari became one of the most crowded of all pilgrimage centres. Nicholas' relics remain enshrined in the 11th-century basilica of San Nicola, Bari.

Nicholas' reputation for generosity and kindness gave rise to legends of miracles he performed for the poor and unhappy. He was reputed to have given marriage dowries of gold to three girls whom poverty would otherwise have forced into lives of prostitution, and he restored to life three children who had been chopped up by a butcher and put in a brine tub.

In the Middle Ages, devotion to Nicholas extended to all parts of Europe. He became the patron saint of Russia and Greece; of charitable fraternities and guilds; of children, sailors, unmarried girls, merchants, and pawnbrokers; and of such cities as Fribourg, Switz., and Moscow.

Thousands of European churches were dedicated to him, one as early as the sixth century, built by the Roman emperor Justinian I, at Constantinople (now Istanbul). Nicholas' miracles were a favourite subject for medieval artists and liturgical plays, and his traditional feast day was the occasion for the ceremonies of the Boy Bishop, a widespread European custom in which a boy was elected bishop and reigned until Holy Innocents' Day (December 28).

Santa checking his list! After the Reformation, Nicholas' cult disappeared in all the Protestant countries of Europe except Holland, where his legend persisted as Sinterklaas (a Dutch variant of the name Saint Nicholas). Dutch colonists took this tradition with them to New Amsterdam (now New York City) in the American colonies in the 17th century.

Sinterklaas was adopted by the country's English-speaking majority under the name Santa Claus, and his legend of a kindly old man was united with old Nordic folktales of a magician who punished naughty children and rewarded good children with presents.

Source:  "Nicholas, SAINT", Britannica CD. Version 97. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 1997.

Thomas Nast was the first artist to draw Santa Claus as a fat, jolly, white-whiskered old man. He was born September 27, 1840 in Landau, Baden, Germany and died December 7, 1902 in Guayaquil, Ecuador. He was an American cartoonist after arriving in the United States at the age of six. He was a political cartoonist who happened to create one of the most popular images of Santa Claus. He is also noted for popularizing the Democratic party's donkey.

Thomas Nast's Original Santa Claus
This is Thomas Nast's earliest published picture of Santa Claus. Nast is generally credited with creating our popular image of Santa. This illustration appeared in the January 3, 1863 edition of Harper's Weekly, and shows Santa Claus visiting a Civil War Camp. In the background, a sign can be seen that reads "Welcome Santa Claus." The illustration shows Santa handing out gifts to Children and Soldiers. One soldier receives a new pair of socks. Santa is pictured sitting on his sleigh, which is being pulled by reindeer and with a long white beard, a furry hat, collar and belt. (Click here for an enlarged view of the drawing)

(Source: http://www.SonOfTheSouth.net)

Holiday Stamps 2002 - The warmth, joy, and magic of the holiday season are captured on this year's Holiday postage stamps featuring charming images of four Snowmen. The new 37-cent stamps will be issued October 28th.

The stamps were designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, D.C., and photographed by Sally Andersen-Bruce, New Milford, Conn. Tommy Simpson of Washington, Conn., made the Styrofoam snowman wearing a top hat and the combed-wool snowman with the cork pipe. Judy Gunn-Irish of Arlington, Wash. made the hand-painted, cut-pine snowman in the red plaid scarf. Delton Products Corp., in Norcross, Ga., made the rosy-cheeked snowman in the blue and white checked scarf.

Santa Stamps
How the Grinch Stole Christmas How the Grinch Stole Christmas - Dr. Seuss - The Grinch, whose heart is two sizes too small, hates Who-ville's holiday celebrations, and plans to steal all the presents to prevent Christmas from coming. To his amazement, Christmas comes anyway, and the Grinch discovers the true meaning of the holiday. A great Christmas story for the young and the older.

Got the "holiday blues?" Read:  Rx for the "holiday blues".

Need someone to talk with because of the "holiday blues?" Phone a friend.

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