St. Nicholas: An Inspiration For Us All

| December 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

Many people don’t realize that Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, who was born to Greek parents near the end of the third century in the coastal city of Patara, in a region that is part of present day southwest Turkey. He was orphaned as a child and is said to have used his inheritance to help the poor and sick. And, though he was wealthy, Saint Nicholas was regarded as a kind and generous man who gave money and food to people who were in need.

One story tells about the time he traveled through a bitter snowstorm to get food to a village. The people in the village had run out of food, and a terrible blizzard had been blowing over their village for days.  Fathers were busy chopping wood to try to keep the fire going. Mothers searched their cupboards for even a tiny bit of bread to feed their children. Everyone was losing hope that they would survive this terrible winter.

So imagine their great joy when one morning, just as the blizzard seemed to be ending and the sun was glinting off the great snowdrifts, the villagers discovered a huge basket of wheat in the middle of their town. Someone had managed to get through the terrible storm to bring them this wheat.

The villagers divided up the wheat carefully, making sure each family got their share. The mothers used a grindstone to grind the wheat into flour, and the fathers built big, roaring fires so the flour could be baked into bread. And the whole village survived that terrible winter. Can you imagine who brought that basket of wheat to the starving villagers? It was Saint Nicholas, of course.

The Rev. John D. Laurance, an associate professor emeritus of liturgical history and theology at Marquette University, said the loss of Nicholas’ parents caused him to be generous and kind to children.

At a young age he became a monk, and eventually served as the bishop of Myra, now the Turkish city Demre, and was extremely popular.

“He was a father to his flock, and took care of orphans. He was especially good to poor families,” Laurance said.

Another popular story tells how Saint Nicholas helped an impoverished father and his three daughters. The father didn’t have any money for their marriage dowries, which in that era was necessary to wed. Without being able to marry, his daughters could fall into prostitution.

When Nicholas heard of their plight, he secretly came by their house one night and threw three bags of gold coins into their window, ensuring the girls would be taken care of.

It is said, the gold either landed in stockings or shoes drying near the fireplace, leading to later traditions of children leaving these items out for Saint Nicholas to fill.

As we look to the Christmas season, and whatever holiday we celebrate, Saint Nicholas’ story is a reminder that we can all spread goodwill and seasonal cheer.

In this December issue, I am proud to share that many people and organizations have been doing just that, giving and sharing goodwill.  And, as you will see, Santa Claus has played a big role in spreading this Christmas spirit.

As we look ahead during the month of December, remember that one small, kind gesture can make a world of difference to your loved ones, neighbors and strangers. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year to us all!

Traditional and historical greeting cards introduced Saint Nicholas as a kind and giving individual.

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Category: Education, Events, feature, Historical, Holidays, Local News, National News

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