Legend has it that Santa Claus lives in the North Pole with his wife, Mrs. Claus. As we all know that on Christmas Eve, Santa travels all over the world on a sleigh pulled by his famous reindeers and delivers toys to each child’s house. But do you know the story of Santa Claus?
Introducing Saint Nicholas
The origins of Santa Claus can be traced to Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was a real person. He was born 280 years after Christ in the 4th century in a small Roman town in modern day Turkey. He was much loved by people because of his generosity and his many acts of kindness, and thus Saint Nicholas became associated with gift giving.
In many European countries like Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Hungary children still receive gifts on Saint Nicholas Day or the Feast of Saint Nicholas, which is celebrated on December 6. Some other countries had similar traditions of children receiving presents around Christ-mas. It is believed that Europeans brought these traditions to the US with them when they settled in the American colonies. The Dutch in particular are said to have brought the story of Saint Nicholas to the US. The name Santa Claus comes from Sinterklass, the Dutch word for Saint Nicholas.
Celebrating Saint Nicholas Day
In many European countries, children put up their shoes with carrots and hay for the Saint’s horse the night before Saint Nicholas Day, hoping that Saint Nicholas would exchange them for gifts.
Saint Nicholas showed kindness to young children and used to give a lot of gifts to poor and young children, even by selling his own belongings. Once, he even left golden coins in stockings for poor children. Since then, it has become a tradition to hang stockings to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day. While a lot of similarities exist between the traditions of Christmas and Saint Nicholas Day, both are different. Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. The similar traditions include leaving gifts in socks and stockings and exchanging Gifts.
Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated in various places but everyone celebrates it with their own set of unique traditions and feasts.
Did You Know?
The night of December 5 is known as Krampus Night. Krampus or the Christmas devil is a creature from German legend centuries ago. It is believed that naughty children are visited by Krampus instead of Saint Nicholas.
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