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St. Nicholas Day. I want a present!

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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-06-13 06:40 AM
Original message
St. Nicholas Day. I want a present!
Edited on Fri Dec-06-13 07:18 AM by No Elephants
The tradition of Saint Nicholas Day, on 6 December (19 December in most Orthodox countries), is a festival for children in many countries in Europe related to surviving legends of the saint, and particularly his reputation as a bringer of gifts. The American Santa Claus, as well as the British Father Christmas, derive from these legends. "Santa Claus" is itself derived in part from the Dutch Sinterklaas.

Now that I looked up St. Nicholas Day in wiki, I see that Jon Stewart misread the wiki earlier this week. Stewart was holding forth on the non-existent war on Christmas. And he said that Santa Claus would celebrate St. Nicholas Day, from the Dutch Sinterklaas. However the wiki is saying only that the name "Santa Claus" itself comes from the Dutch "Sinterklaas." (Which, I assume translates to Saint Claus, or Saint Nicholas.)

I have no idea why we took Santa Claus from the Dutch, instead of Father Christmas from the British. Maybe it had something to do with the early Dutch settlers of Manhattan?

I hate to rain on any traditions around St. Nick, but Sinterklaas often appears with mischievous characters in black face, ala minstrel shows. I hope it is supposed to be soot that they picked up from going down the chimney with Santa? I know nothing of the Dutch legend about them, though.


The Saint himself was born in the third century, C.E. in what is now Turkey (not Alsace Lorraine, as the wiki states, even though he is the patron saint of Lorraine). /

He became a saint at some point before 565 C.E., well before the Orthodox and Catholic churches split. (If you're Catholic, you probably believe that the Orthodox Church split from the Catholic Church. If you are Orthodox, you see the Catholic Church as having split from the Orthodox Church.)

So, I am assuming that St. Nicholas is a saint in all Orthodox traditions, as well as in all Catholic traditions. Many other traditions, though, don't believe in sainthood in the same way as those traditions.

Anyway, happy birthday St. Nicholas. According to the stories, you were a very good man. My uncle was named after you and he dressed up as Santa when my cousins and I were very young. So, I have a special place in my heart for you.

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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-07-13 06:34 AM
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1. Santa Claus has such a convoluted history.
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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-07-13 07:37 AM
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2. Yes, but all I knew of his history when I was four was that the "real" Santa
Edited on Sat Dec-07-13 07:43 AM by No Elephants
came to the home of my only single uncle and his two single two sisters on Christmas Eve and handed out presents to my cousins and me and was very stern with our parents.

My father and his brothers were all very strict and hot-tempered, so this was most definitely a once a year thing--and something only the real Santa would have ever dared do. Especially with my father. (You could think I would have welcomed it, but I actually feared for my father as Santa approached him. (Who knew exactly why all the adults in the room seemed to be having a hard time keeping a straight face?)

I was very sorry when I learned anything else about Santa, all too soon. I am not sure I entirely recovered until my son and I set out cookies and a beverage for Santa and a couple of carrot for the reindeer.

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Divine Discontent Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-25-13 02:00 AM
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3. I just loved reading this! :)
may you have every joy this Christmas...


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No Elephants Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-27-13 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Aw, you too, Divine. So good to see you!
I hope that 2014 will be a good year for you.

I think we could all use a better year than 2013.
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