“He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake.”
If you live in the western world, then you already know these lyrics from the famous “Santa Claus is coming to town”. We all heard the songs and saw the movies, but you may not know the legend of the man who can fly around the world showering kids with gifts in just one single night. Keep reading to know more about the origin story of Santa Claus.
Our story begins in the 3rd century in the town of Myra which is now a small town in modern-day Turkey. A wealthy Christian husband and his wife were having trouble conceiving a baby for many years. They prayed to God every day for a child of their very own. Sadly, as soon as they gave birth to “Nicholas”, they died of an epidemic that had spread down the city of Myra leaving baby Nicholas as a very young orphan.
The Generous Child
He was raised by his uncle who happened to be the Bishop of Myra who had never had children of his own. The Bishop was very proud of his nephew as he was a very well-behaved and kind boy. Growing up as a wealthy orphan; Nicholas showed remarkable sympathy and kindness to the poor little kids. He even taught the poor kids to make handmade toys to play with. He wanted to help in every possible way.
Coming Down the Chimney
There was a man in the town with three daughters. He was so poor that he couldn’t afford to support his family and his daughters were about to be sold into slavery. Nicholas wanted to help in a way that won’t hurt the family’s pride by offering a donation face to face. So he dropped a back of gold coins down the chimney which landed in their stockings that they had hanged up to dry. The family jumped out of joy believing that God had finally answered their prayers. The money saved the oldest daughter from slavery and helped her to get married. Later, Nicholas came back to do this again for the two younger daughters.
Spread the Joy
For Nicholas, money didn’t mean much; on the other hand, those donations were life-changing to the families who needed them most. Nicholas continued anonymously spreading his inheritance to the people who needed the most help in the town.
Everyone knew that these gold coins weren’t a pull out of thin air and people in town began to whisper about Nicholas and his generosity. People of Myra started to leave stockings and shoes down the fireplace hoping for a visit from Nicholas, and almost everyone in Myra received an anonymous present in that unique way. Nicholas awakened the spirit of giving to everyone in town that they started helping out one another in time of need without fear of hurting anyone’s pride.
A New Role
By the time he had given away all of his possessions, he became a monk and dedicated his life to God. After that, the people of Myra couldn’t find a better Bishop after the uncle’s death than the Nephew.
The fantastical stories of Saint Nicholas lasted for thousands of years. The magic behind his generosity was so inspiring and powerful to keep Saint Nicholas alive in the hearts of mankind for generations to come.
It was the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
(A Visit from St. Nicholas)
Poem by “Clement Clarke Moore”, 1823.