Monday, December 6, 2010

Saint Nicholas of Myra

Sinterklaas or Saint Nicholas, considered by m...Image via Wikipedia
I'm really not the Grinch. I enjoy presents and pretty, sparkly decorations as much as the next girl, but here is where a lot of you say "WHAT???"

Not only is Santa dead, he was from Turkey.

Yup. St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, which is now known as Demre, which is near Kemer, which is near Antalya... in modern day Turkey. It was Hellenistic Lycia at the time he lived there.

Nicholas was the only son of a wealthy couple. His parents died when he was young. He was raised by his uncle, the Bishop of Patara. Saint Nicholas died on December 6, 347 and thus, today is observed as a feast day for him. After his death, there was some shuffling around of his remains.  He was placed a tomb in Myra, but when the Turks took over the area in 1087, Italian sailors secreted the relics to Bari, where most of him now lies. It's what happened in between the adoption and the dying that's interesting.

The story of Saint Nick started when, as the Bishop of Myra, he helped some poor girls without dowries. He did it anonymously - leaving a bag of gold at their door in the middle of the night. Sometimes-get this- if you were poor and deserving, he dropped gold coins in shoes if you left them on the stoop. That's where the dutch tradition of leaving clogs out for Sinterklaas (the guy in the pic) to fill with a gift comes from. (More presents!) 
via Wikipedia

So what about the elves? Maybe they're the evolution of Sinterklaas's sidekick, Zwarte Piet. (Is he black from climbing in the chimneys...or because he's a black moor?).  I have no idea, but I did hear the reindeer sleigh had something to do with Artemis, and she was definitely not Turkish.

Maybe I should have a spoiler alert at the top of this post....

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Jules said...

Man, sorry to hear this. I would so love to find a bag of gold at my front door ;)

Is it me or does that guy look like a bearded wizard? (as in from Oz) :D
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

LTM said...

I'd heard the story about the bishop who left the gift in shoes and all, but I didn't get the part about him being a Turk! I actually thought he *was* Dutch. Thanks for the clarification. But who's this sidekick??? ;p

Old Kitty said...

Awwww of course you didn't spoil anything!! It's a great legend out of a real person!! Also St George (patron saint of England) was Turkish too! Yay! take care

Golden Eagle said...

Wow. That's a great story, especially since the person was a real figure in history!

Hart Johnson said...

I love all these Christmas-related stories, and fabulous for the coins in the shoes! I know through much of Europe they still do St. Nicholas day as the 'toy and candy' part of the Christmas season (Christmas itself being religious and not about that...)

Christopher said...

I had no idea, interesting as always.


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