Tag Archives: Santa Claus

The Real St. Nick

6 Dec

As we prepare for the sublime feast of the Nativity of Our Lord during these weeks of Advent, we can’t help but notice the trappings of our secular culture that continually impose themselves on the “holiday season.” Meanwhile, more overtly religious expressions, such as créches or Nativity scenes (or should we call them “holiday scenes”?), are systematically excluded from the public square.

As the father of six and a grandfather of one, the 800-pound gorilla in my living room–or, should I say, the jolly 300-pound man in the chimney–is Santa Claus. Through the years, how have I explained this peculiar man in the red suit to Brenda, Mary Kate, Virginia, Abigail, Samuel, Raymond, and Alex, not to mention my godchildren, nephews, and nieces? Why does he always show up this time of year?

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His real name is St. Nicholas, and the universal Church celebrates his feast today. He was a fourth-century priest, abbot, and eventually Bishop of Myra, Lycia (modern Turkey). There is no doubt that he existed, and that he was universally recognized as a holy and generous Church leader who suffered for the faith.

Two episodes from St. Nicholas’ life form the basis of the folklore concerning Santa Claus. Continue reading

Get Ready for St. Nicholas

5 Dec

Tomorrow, for the feast of St. Nicholas, I will re-post an article I originally wrote a few years ago on the development of “Santa Claus” in our American culture.

But since St. Nicholas’ actual feast day is tomorrow and not Christmas Eve, you might want to start planning a celebration for your children or students. One common traditional practice is to have kids leave their shoes outside the door before they go to bed, and overnight fill them with various goodies and treasures–not unlike what many families today do with their Christmas stockings.

However, there are many variations on that theme, and countless other ways to celebrate the feast of this popular saint. If you want some ideas, you might want to check out these sites, among others:

St. Nicholas Center

stnicksday.com

Catholic Culture

Family in Feast and Feria

We humbly implore your mercy, Lord: protect us in all dangers through the prayers of the Bishop Saint Nicholas, that the way of salvation may lie open before us. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.