Saint who became Santa
Dr. Adam English on the story behind Santa Claus
- Duration 7:39
- Date Dec 7, 2012
Dr. Adam English on the story behind Santa Claus
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-- come December 24 millions of children will be eagerly anticipating a visit from a jolly old elf named Santa Claus.
Also nice -- -- but Santa Claus does beginnings not as a resident of the North Pole but has.
A bishop of the early Christian church here to explain is doctor -- English he's the author of the new book.
The saint who would be Santa Claus between life and trials of Nicholas of -- -- Welcome.
Back -- clearly.
And it's really great to be with you Lauren is it -- are -- I've heard it Myra I think it's pronounced my Arab but it's an ancient city so pronounce it anyway you want.
-- right nobody's around to do that's a challenge -- Did you view that we've got a Santa Claus is the jolly old elf -- the picture.
In -- political commercial.
At a rather.
Where did that compliment like why did that get started.
The picture of Santa clause that we have is a product of the early nineteenth century.
It is especially going to New York some prominent New York citizens John -- -- Washington Irving and those associated with the New York Historical Society.
More we're looking for traditions were licking her roots and prepare to return to their Dutch heritage.
And to -- Dutch is to celebrate saint Nicholas center costs.
And so to -- saint Nicholas cookies to give gifts on saint Nicholas day December 6 is in need is what it means to be Dutch even today in the -- Netherlands.
Send -- -- are arriving by boat from Spain riding a white horse and handing out oranges with resort to -- and so on and so forth.
So he gets introduced into the American context through those Dutch troops and then quickly begins to evolve into -- seem to.
-- but this -- Nicklaus that was.
We are talking about was a bishop of the in the fourth century.
Christian church is not right and how did that.
How did he become been associated with children and gift giving.
-- you're correct saint Nicholas how was a bishop of the early fourth century in what is now southern Turkey on the coasts the Mediterranean.
He gets associated with gift giving through a very wonderful and unique story.
That comes from early on -- his life he's a young man.
And not yet a bishop for a pastor.
He -- inherited a certain sum of money from his deceased parents.
And he hears of a man in town with three daughters on the doorstep of destitution they're.
They become so desperate and so poor that the man is perhaps facing selling off his own daughters.
And Nicholas decides to do something about it in the middle of the night tea bags up but some of gold and it.
Goes anonymously anonymously to this man's house tosses the bag to the window.
The money is found in the morning and use as a dowry so that one of the daughters might be able to marry out of her condition.
Nicklaus returns repeats the gifts.
A later legend woman added.
That's he returned and found the -- locked in so he drops the bag of -- down the chimney where it lands and -- stocking detained there to -- -- Elizabeth -- of the saint -- we know today the one that was the North Pole and has the elves and a -- and has the toy workshop that really that -- really does come from the original saint Nicholas who.
There is that.
Oh yes -- that there's that link then with the original saint Nicholas of generosity so that even by the eleven hundred's.
There are nuns in France who were making little toys and leaving them on the doorsteps of children.
And signing them from saint Nicholas.
And so that spirit of generosity that active anonymous gift giving it's contagious and it carries all the way to the modern Santa -- traditions.
But you want things that you know I was reading your books and what it thinks it's very obvious about saint Nicholas.
They went from Turkey is that he's doing it out of his Christian faith he's doing it because I -- of the gift of Jesus Christ himself and so.
Have we lost the sort of understanding of Santa clauses connection with -- Christmas the real meaning of Christmas.
I think what families can do by bringing saint Nicholas back into the equation of their Santa -- traditions.
I and I love the -- cost traditions of gift giving -- among family members but what saint Nicholas challenges us to do it is.
Not only to give gifts to those we know in those that we love.
But to give to those whom we do not know and perhaps do not look.
To reach beyond the walls of our family homes and that you know that really is the Christian impulse and that's the that's the impulse of saint Nicholas there.
Bit I think can really enhance and enrich the Santa Claus traditions of gift giving.
And it then.
And other side of just their traditions of Christmas I hear that.
Saint Nicholas actually was also helpful in shaping christianity in itself how did -- do that.
Primarily he attended -- a very famous.
Council of nine C church history buffs out there will recognize that this made the most important council.
In church history.
He was attending there when some very important decisions were being made.
There are some later legends then -- his activity.
One of them one of the greatest.
-- and I hear all the time.
Is that saint Nicholas ends up punching.
And archived heretic.
Because he hears blasting coming out of him and he just can't stand -- and -- gets up and and slaps them.
That enforcing is not true although there's a great T -- was the saint Nicholas holding a pair of singles and the caption reads.
I've been -- slapped by Santa Claus which is a great idea about.
But if it was he lived at a very crucial moments in church history.
When he was born.
Christianity was still and illegal minority persecuted religion by the time of his death christianity is not only been legalized.
But has become the favored religion of the empire.
Seven -- it's a massive massive shift in his own lifetime.
You -- actually relics of saint Nicholas's.
Runs in the Holy Trinity Church the Greek orthodox church here in New York City.
As well as the saint Nicholas church -- in Queens New York says this is a very big tradition within the Greek orthodox church why is it most other.
Denominations hasn't -- -- really focused on him.
He's very popular with the orthodox with the Russians in Europe even to this day.
As is still a Christian bishop.
Our current around the world it's really only -- American context that.
Some of those Christian associations and his connection with being a bishop had been.
Drop so we think about.
That they iconic.
Pictures of Santa -- by hand -- belong in the Coca-Cola company.
He is all the kind of similar religious symbols have been removed from him which is sort of -- -- -- to lose that connection.
Well it didn't want to get.
Back to the connection between this -- Qualls and saint Nicholas he could read your book and the book is called the saint who would be Santa Claus the true life.
And trials of Nicholas of Myra it really is fascinating and it doesn't to diminish you know our you know what -- Santa -- -- really is a beautiful story so thank you very much that -- an English.