St. Nicholas and Christmas

Christmas is a time for celebration and gift giving in honor of Jesus Christ TMs birth. One of the most recognizable figures of the holiday is Saint Nicholas.

How did this 4th century Saint from Asia Minor come to be a staple of the season?

The story goes he helped a poor farmer with dowries for his three daughters by tossing bags of gold through the window.

The throwing of the gold coins was the way that St. Nicholas became connected to the idea of gift giving. And so throughout a good chunk of Europe for many many centuries December 6th, the Feast of St. Nicholas was the day when Christians would exchange gifts with one another. The Dutch had a very strong tradition of gift giving. When the Dutch came to the United States, or what would become the United States, to New Amsterdam, which is today New York, they brought that tradition with them. The Dutch pronunciation of St. Nicholas is (sant-nick-laws) so that's very, very closely connected with the name of Santa Claus, said Fr. Robert Busch, PhD., Amarillo Diocese Schools Director.Our modern version of Santa Claus was heavily influenced by Clement Moore TMs famous Twas the Night before Christmas poem, and the writings of Washington Irving about Santa. The jolly fat man in the red suit became popularized by early 20th century cartoons and advertisements.

It TMs good to know that our Santa was inspired by a generous holy man that lived more than 1,500 years ago.