Updated 12/24/2012 08:00 PM
Santa Claus as a Catholic saint
The stories of Santa Claus have been told to children around the world for centuries. A man in a red suit comes down the chimney and brings toys to kids on Christmas Eve night. But over time, those tales have changed. Our Cara Thomas takes us back to the beginning of good ol' St. Nick.
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UNITED STATES -- Sharon Cossette remembers the tales her mother used to tell her about Santa Claus.
“My mother always said that Santa Claus is a person who is kind and generous and you don’t necessarily have to believe in the man, but it’s somebody who does something nice for lots of people everywhere.”
A jolly old man, with the white beard and the red nose who brings presents to children around the world. And the tales of Santa Claus may sounds familiar to some as they’re very similar to the stories of St. Nicholas the Catholic saint.
Father John Mikalajunas, the Pastor of Holy Trinity Church, said, “St. Nicholas, of course, was Bishop in Turkey in Myra during the fourth century.”
Many stories and legends are told about the life of St. Nicholas. How he raised three boys from the dead and calmed a storm, all through prayer. But the stories about his loving and giving nature are the most well known.
Mikalajunas said, "He comes from a very wealthy family and so because of his wealth, he gives his total wealth away to the poor and to the needy."
St. Nicholas, on many occasions, was known to give money to women who could not afford a dowry. Throwing bags full of coins through windows, undetected.
"He always did it basically not to attract attention to himself but place the gift there basically so that it was there," said Father John. "And that's I think where we come now with the chimney, the gift and not seeing him, right? Because he never wanted to be seen."
Over the years the physicality of St. Nicholas has changed. From bishop garb with a miter and crosier to a man with a stocking cap, a red suit and Mrs. Claus by his side.
Mikalajunas said, "Do you come to an age where you do not believe in Santa Claus, of course not. Because Santa Claus is a living being. He is a Saint with God in heaven."
But no matter the outfit, the stories of St. Nicholas, the saint and the man, always bring a message of love and generosity during the holiday season.