Saint Nicholas is celebrated in numerous countries in Europe on December 6. Saint Nicholas is the patron and protector of small children. The legend of Father Christmas was derived from the legends surrounding the life of Saint Nicholas.
Saint Nicolas was inspired by Nicolas de Myre also known as Nicholas of Bari. He was born in Patara in Asia minor between 250 and 270 J – c. He died on 6 December, 345 or 352 in the port city of Myre in Asia Minor.
After his death, St. Nicolas fueled a multitude of stories that reflected his generous personality. He is one of the saints most represented in religious iconography.
Saint Nicholas provides for children the opportunity to receive gifts three weeks before he visits every chimney in the world. On the eve of Saint Nicholas, small children place their shoes by the hearth before going to bed. Next to their shoes, they will place a carrot and sugar cubes for Saint Nicholas mule as well as a glass of wine to warm the great Saint.
Starting in the 12th century, it is said that Saint Nicolas, disguised, goes from House to House on the night of 5 to 6 December to ask the children if they were obedient. Good children receive gifts and sweets while bad ones receive coal or stick provided by of St. Nicholas’ companion. (Père Fouettard in France)
From Saint Nicholas to Father Christmas
After the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, the feast of Saint Nicolas was abolished in most European countries.
The Dutch retained the Old Catholic custom. In early 17th-century Dutch immigrated to the United States and founded a colony called “Nieuw Amsterdam.” In a few decades, this Dutch custom to celebrate St. Nicholas spread in the United States. For Americans, Sinter Klaas quickly became Santa Claus.
Several decades’ later Christian society found it more appropriate that this “feast for children” be moved closer to the celebration of the coming of the child Jesus. Thus, in Christian families, St. Nicholas began to visit families on the night of December 24.
In 1821, American clergyman, Clement Clarke Moore wrote Christmas tale for his children where a sympathetic character appears, Santa Claus in his sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. He described him as plump, jovial and smiling, replaced Saint Nicolas’ bonnet and cross with a fur lined hat and sugar canes.
So now that you now the story of St Nicholas don’t forget to celebrate on December 6th and set your boots out on December 5th.