Nicholas Comes to America, the Story of Santa Claus traces the life of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. Follow his journey from the small town of Patara, to Myra and his becoming the boy bishop.
Discover the origins of some of the world's most beloved Christmas stories and symbols, as well as the various incarnations Nicholas takes as he journeys throughout the world spreading the message of love
and acceptance to young and old.
Learn the answers to age old questions such as:
Who is Santa Claus?
Where did he come from?
What does St. Nicholas wear as he travels the world?
Why do we decorate Christmas trees and hang stockings?
Nicholas Comes to America, the Story of Santa Claus, will help to find a new understanding of the Christmas season, and to realize that to celebrate the birth of Christ is to truly live his life.
One of the central characters in any child’s Christmas celebration is St. Nicholas or Santa Claus. As editor Francis Pharcellus Church of the New York Sun stated in a letter to eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon in 1897, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias.” Little Virginia was concerned because some of her friends had begun to scoff at the idea of the jolly old elf. He continued by saying “No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.” Few of us could argue with Mr. Church.
St. Nicholas of Myra was most certainly a real person, born in the area of present day Turkey in approximately 270AD. The stories, traditions, and symbols of this saint are a combination of stories, both written and oral, as well as cultural traditions.
This book is meant to bring a deeper meaning and understanding of the Christmas season to young and old alike. Questions as to why certain traditions are celebrated are as varied as the families who celebrate them!
Why not take this little book and read a portion of it a day in the weeks leading up to Christmas? Children –while we can’t deny them the secular excitement of the holiday – might also come to understand the spiritual anticipation of the feast. In this way, they will have a better understanding of not only the origins of the jolly ol’ elf, but of the reasons why we decorate Christmas trees, or hang stockings, etc.
Family traditions are very important, and this book provides an opportunity to share not only beloved family Christmas recipes, but cherished memories of Christmases gone by. Merry Christmas to all!
Christmas presents were known in antiquity among kings and chieftains, especially on the European continent. However, they have been common among ordinary people in Iceland only during the past 100 or so years.
The Christmas holidays are a wonderful time of year. They are a time for getting together with family and friends to remember the meaning of the season; the birth of the Jesus.
The season brings with it traditions and customs, some of which date back to pagan times. Each of the traditions of Christmas hold time honored places of reverence in our hearts. Whether you hang stockings by the fireplace, exchange gifts, or feast on a Christmas goose, Christmas just wouldn’t seem like Christmas if they were excluded from our celebrations. Where did these traditions begin? Why do we still hold them so dear?
At the heart of the celebration is the Christ Child. This innocent babe brings with him the hopes and dreams of salvation and love each year during the holiday season. It is during this holy time that we feel that “special something” in the air. It is a time when we take a moment to stop and look at our neighbor with a measure of compassion unlike that at any other time of year.
The incarnation of that feeling, that hope in humanity is represented by none other than St. Nicholas.
Nicholas is a real person. Through the centuries, he has taken many forms throughout the world dressed in the clothing of the country and culture to make its people feel truly special. He is the messenger of Christ’s love. Nicholas gives us a yearly reminder of how we should follow the two most important commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with thy entire mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." [Matt22:37-40]
So whether it is St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Grandfather Frost, or Santa Claus you look for during the holiday season, remember why this messenger comes to us; he brings the message of love from the Christ Child.
1. Boy Bishop of Myra
The story of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra begins with his birth a long time ago in a small town called Patara (PAT-ar-ah). Nicholas was an only child adored by his mother and father. For many years, his parents were unable to have a child. Throughout that time, Nicholas’ mother had prayed to Jesus for a child to love. Eventually, his parents were blessed with the gift of Nicholas. His mother wanted to thank Jesus for giving her a son. As he was growing up, Nicholas’ mother always told him that he was a special gift from God, and he should always honor Jesus as a way to thank him.
Unfortunately, While Nicholas was still young, his parents died, leaving him an orphan. However, they left him a good deal of money as an inheritance.
Remembering his mother’s teachings to always honor Jesus, Nicholas thought the best thing he could do would be to become a priest. He traveled to Myra to start his journey to priesthood as an altar boy. When he arrived in Myra, it was too late in the day to get into the cathedral. He spent the night sleeping on the steps of the church.
What he did not know, was that the elders of the church had had a dream that night. In that dream, they were told the first person to come through the doors of the cathedral the next morning would become the bishop. When Nicholas awoke, he opened the doors to the cathedral, and was made Bishop of all Myra. He was known as Nicholas the Boy Bishop, because he was so young.
After receiving this honor, Nicholas promised to honor Jesus in every way. He felt the best way to do this would be to lead by example; doing good deeds for others, expecting nothing in return.
One of the most famous examples of Nicholas’ good deeds was the time he secretly helped a man and his three daughters. There was a man in town, who had fallen on hard times, and had lost his wife. He was raising his three daughters on his own.
When the oldest daughter wanted to get married, the man had no money to give as a dowry. Long ago, a dowry was money, property or material goods a bride’s family gave to a bridegroom or his family at the time of wedding. If a bride did not have a dowry, she could not get married.
The man thought if he sold his daughter into slavery, he could use the money as dowries for his two other daughters when they wanted to get married.
Nicholas found out about the poor man’s situation, and the night before the oldest daughter was about to be sold, he took some of his own money that was left to him by his parents, wrapped it into a ball in his handkerchief, snuck out to the man’s house in the dark of night when no one would see him, and threw the money into the window of the house.
The next morning, the man woke up, found the money, and used it for his daughter’s dowry and wedding. She was not sold into slavery. The man was so happy for the gift, that he asked everyone in the town who had done this wondrous deed, so he could thank them. No one in the town knew who had thrown the money into the man’s window.
Time went by, and the man’s second daughter wanted to get married. He was still down on his luck and had no money. He thought if he sold his second daughter into slavery, he would have money for his third daughter’s dowry.
Again, Nicholas heard of the poor man’s situation. The night before she was about to be sold into slavery, he took some of his money, put it into his handkerchief, tied it into a ball, snuck out to the man’s house in the dead of night, and threw the money into the window, making sure he was not seen by anyone.
The next morning, the man woke up, found the money, and was able to save his second daughter from slavery, as well as pay for her wedding and dowry. Once again he asked around town, but no one would take credit for helping the man with his financial difficulties.
Unfortunately, the man continued to suffer hard times, and when it came time for the third daughter to marry, he had no money. Once again, he thought if he sold this daughter into slavery, at least she would be cared for.
The night before she was about to be sold, Nicholas once again came with his handkerchief full of money. Carefully, he crept up to the house. Just before he threw the money into the window, the man jumped out of the shadows, grabbed his arm, and said “Bishop Nicholas, is it you who has saved my children from slavery?” Bishop Nicholas admitted that it was he who had thrown the money in the window. The man was so grateful; he wanted the world to know of Nicholas’ wondrous deeds.
However, Nicholas said that if he really wanted to make him happy, keep this as their little secret and instead, do good deeds for others, expecting nothing in return.
Nicholas said that this would make both him and Jesus very happy. He told the man that if he did this, he would be rewarded tenfold. However, Nicholas told the man that when the time was right, he would allow him to tell people what he had done for him. This is how Nicholas came to be known as the giver of gifts, and the protector of children.
Nicholas left gifts in the middle of the night, unseen by children, and expected nothing in return. That is how his legend began.