Who is Santa Claus? Part 1: Introducing the truth behind the legend
With Christmas a few days away I want to introduce you to a hero of mine, someone that for many people is shrouded in mystery and someone that you will all be somewhat familiar with especially at this time of the year – Santa Claus. I realize that Santa is not the primary focus of Christmas – Jesus is – but for a long time now Santa has played a significant roll in celebrating Jesus birthday. This blog, the first of a 3-blog series, is to introduce you to the real Santa Claus aka St Nicolas the wonder worker and some of the ways he has inspired me to follow Jesus and make the world a better place.
Part 1: Introducing Santa Claus
St Nicolas the wonder worker aka Santa Claus was born around 250ad and lived in the Turkish town of Myra; he died on December the 6th 343ad from a cause unknown. Not much is known of his early life and details of his entire life are fairly sparse but it is well known that from a young age he was a generous man that walked with God. His life was filled with the miraculous and with signs and wonders, hence his name – St Nicolas the wonder worker.
The earliest recorded miracle of Santa Claus goes as follows: He was 8 years of age and walking through the countryside of Myra. As he was walking he came across an older lady that had a withered hand. He approached her, took her withered hand with one hand and blessed her making the sign of the cross with the other. Before his eyes the withered hand was made whole. Nicolas’ life was marked with the supernatural from that point on. It is reasonably common knowledge that – on a regular basis, whilst about daily business – Santa would cast demons out of many and heal many who were sick.
There are many recorded accounts of the miracles of Santa from dead raisings, to demons being cast out, through to the sick being healed and food multiplying. One of my favourite stories is the story of ‘the evil butcher’. I have chosen to share this with you to introduce the kind of lifestyle Santa led. The details are a little unclear and there are 2 versions of the story. In one the murderer is an innkeeper, in the other, which is the most commonly told, the murderer is an evil butcher. It is also unclear when in the saint’s life this occurred and is not historically proven but is suspected to be true, I for one think that it is. Here is a version I found from an old French children’s book named, The Legend of Saint Nicolas.
Three small children were gleaning in the fields. As they worked and played, they wandered off into the town. Walking about and exploring, the children forgot the time.
When it was late and the sun going down, the children were hungry, tired and lost. They came to a lighted butcher's shop, knocked and said, "We are lost and hungry. May we eat and sleep?" "Oh, yes," came the reply, "do come in."
As they enter, the butcher takes a sharp knife, cuts them up, and puts them in a large salting tub. Seven years pass.As they enter, the butcher take
A knock comes on the door. Bishop Saint Nicholas appears, saying to the evil butcher, "Open your large salting tub!" The saint puts his hand on the tub and, appealing to God, says, "Rise up, children." The little children awake and stand up. Their families joyfully welcome them home.
I realize that this is a fairly radical story and maybe difficult for some people to accept as true – and no pressure to do so from me. However from my perspective, after taking into consideration all of the other historically proven miracles and supernatural happenings that surrounded the saints life, this story is very believable. It is also a great example of the kind of lifestyle Santa Claus lived and serves as an insightful illustration of the kind of miracle-working man he was.
Santa was known as a man of the supernatural that walked intimately with God and demonstrated His power and love everywhere he went. As stories like the one I mentioned above spread people came from all over the world to receive of the goodness and power of God that flowed through him. His life was not only marked with the power and love of God but it inspired the entire world to live generously, love radically, and to honour God – and he continues to inspire people in that way even today.
Santa stands as one of my favourite revivalists of all time. Pierre & Germaine have very simply summarized Santa Claus’ life as follows: As a bishop, Nicholas, servant of God, was first and foremost a shepherd of the people, caring for their needs. His active pursuit of justice for his people was demonstrated when he secured grain in time of famine, saved the lives of three men wrongly condemned, and secured lower taxes for Myra. He taught the Gospel simply, so ordinary people understood, and he lived out his faith and devotion to God in helping the poor and all in need.
This time of year always leads me to ponder his remarkable life and I am always inspired to step into greater realms of intimacy with God, greater dynamics of Kingdom power, and greater love for the people God has put around me.
…. To be continued in part 2 tomorrow