Is Santa Claus a Real Person? Who is the Real Saint Nick? – A Spiritual Story

The answer is yes. The person we call Santa Claus, or St. Nick, was a real man. Nicholas of Myra (or Nikolaos, meaning “victory of the people”) was born around 280 A.D. in what was then called Asia Minor, but is now called Turkey.

Nicholas was always a very spiritual person who at a very young age was completely committed to serving God. He was very sensitive to the suffering of others and wanted to make a difference in the world.

He was born to wealthy parents but unfortunately lost them to the plague. Nicholas felt the best way to serve God was to use his wealth to help others. He vowed to the Lord that he would serve and help as many people as possible in any way he could.

There are many stories of Nicholas. He was famous for his generosity, the miracles he performed, his love for children and his ability to bi-locate
One of the stories about Nicholas tells of a family in the city of Lycia. A local nobleman and his daughters had fallen into deep financial misfortune. The nobleman was afraid he would need to sell his three daughters for he could provide no dowries for them. Hearing of the man's hardships, Nicholas decided to secretly toss a bag of coins into the window of the man's home as the family slept.

The next morning, the nobleman praised God for his good fortune. But the man was still concerned about the future of his other daughters.

Nicholas repeated this kind gesture, throwing another bag of coins through the bedroom window of the second eldest daughter the next night. As that bag of coins landed in her shoes, Nicholas quickly slipped away into the darkness and was able to keep his identity a secret.

On the third night, the nobleman was watching for Nicholas. He wanted to thank him for his generosity. This time when Nicholas came, he tossed the bag of coins through the window and it landed in the youngest girls' stocking. However, before Nicholas could get away, the nobleman caught up with Nicholas. The nobleman thanked Nicholas profusely. Humbly, Nicholas asked the man to keep his name anonymous and they agreed the man could tell the story to anyone he pleased after Nicholas' death. This anonymity resulted in the tradition of Saint Nicholas leaving gifts in stocking and shoes.

Nicholas on several occasions was given credit for restoring life to children who had been pronounced dead.

It is said, that one night there was a violent storm at sea. A group of sailors found themselves vulnerable and in danger of losing their lives. As they desperately prayed for help, Nicholas – although many miles away, appeared before them saying, “You cried out to me and here I am.” Nicholas' peaceful presence helped the men relax as Nicholas calmed the waters around them.

Even though he was a man of great wealth, he was persecuted, tormented and put on trial for his belief in Jesus Christ. During this time, Emperor Diocletian was in power in Asia Minor and he was completely intolerant of Christianity. In 303, he issued an edict in which he prohibited it in Nicomediam. This brought about numerous executions, the confiscation of property and the destruction of churches.

Also as a result, around the year 305, Nicholas was persecuted and tortured for defending this faith in God and Jesus Christ.

During the reign on Emperor Constantine I, Nicholas was once again tormented and put on trial. It is said, however, that before the Emperor ruled against Nicholas, the image of Christ and Mary appeared in the sky above Nicholas. The Emperor took this as a sign to spare Nicholas and he was saved.

In 313, Constantine announced toleration of Christianity in The Edict of Milan, which removed penalties for professing Christianity and returned to the church its earlier confiscated property. Constantine was the 1st Roman emperor to support Christianity and to become Christian.

Nicholas was sainted after his death and a great church was built for him in Constantinople, now known as Istanbul, Turkey. This shrine was a center of pilgrimage but over time fell into disarray. Italian merchants wanting to preserve the relics of Saint Nicholas removed them from their location. Now Saint Nicholas' relics are located in a tomb in the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy.

St. Nicholas Day is actually celebrated on December 6 in parts of Europe and is a festival for children celebrated by gift giving and feasts. In the countries of Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands, the celebration of St. Nicholas and its associated gift giving tradition is part of the Christmas season

In the Netherlands, children put shoes in front of the chimney filled with carrots and hay for Saint Nicholas' “horses”. In Portugal, the festivities are celebrated from November 29th to December 7th.

In Italy, gifts are given on the morning of December 6th, followed by a fair called, “Fiera di San Nicolo.”

In Holland, in the Middle ages, St. Nicholas was known as Sinter Klaas. There, he was famous for filling the Dutch children's shoes with nut's and candy.

Later, as the Dutch immigrated to New Amsterdam (now called New York) they brought along their traditions of gift giving and celebrating Sinter Klaas. This joyous celebration continued to spread throughout America. Because St. Nicholas' Day is so close to Christmas, over time the two holidays began to overlap and Santa Claus became part of the Christmas tradition.

Nicholas has been named the patron saint and protector of children, seafarers, maidens, voyagers, choirboys, firefighters, stone masons, weavers, butchers, prisoners and captives.

The spirit of Saint Nicholas and the expression of his love, kindness and generosity for mankind remain in our rich religious and nonreligious traditions and celebrations.

In celebration of St. Nick and our ascended masters once again enjoy this ever returning holiday season.

– Thanks to Donna Virgilio for this spiritual story.

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