Saturday, December 6, 2008

Santa's Roots

Ok, so I ordered this book, recommended by the beautiful Lauren Brooks, called Celebrating the Christian Year.  Amazing book.  I have had so much fun learning about our holiday traditions and where they come from.  Do you know where the Santa tradition comes from?

In the year 280, a man named Nicholas was born in Myra, a small village by the Mediterranean Sea.  He was born to very wealthy parents, who both died when he was nine years old.  Nicholas became a Christian when he went to live with his uncle after his parents' death.  When Nicholas became an adult, he had a friend who lost his job as a shipping merchant. His daughters were devastated because it meant he wouldn't have a dowry for them to get married.  Nicholas grieved with them over this, and decided to use his own resources to bless them.  In the middle of the night, he dropped a bag of gold coins through the open window of the oldest daughters' room.  Some fell into a stocking that had been hung out to dry (where we get our "stocking" tradition), and some landed on the floor and in the girls' shoes (where some get the "shoe" tradition).  Nicholas became so addicted to giving that from then on he set out to use his resources to bless and serve others.  He spent the rest of his life caring for the poor.  Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD.  Many began to celebrate that day as St. Nicholas Day, wherein they would practice charitable giving.  

And from there, St. Nicholas took on many changes, until he has become our present-day Santa, a "jolly old elf" who has become an instrument of teaching children that if they are good, they will be rewarded and if they are bad, they will be punished.  Christmas, for many, has become all about commercialism and getting, with very little giving.  

Some other facts:
1.  The name Kris Kringle came when Martin Luther decided that instead of celebrating St. Nicholas, we should be celebrating Christ, the ultimate giver, so his name was changed to "Christkindl" which became Kris Kringle. 
2.  Ever wondered where the chocolate gold coins in a gold mesh bag came from?  They represent Nicholas' bag of gold. 
3.  What about gingerbread?  Well, Nicholas used to bake bread and mix in sugar and spices, to give out to all the children.  

If you're interested in learning more, get the book!


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