Steeple Chase
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December 6, 2018, 2:00 PM

St. Nicholas: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Happy St. Nicholas Day!  Did you know that St. Nicholas is a real Christian saint?  You can read about him and every other saint on the Lutheran calendar in your Resurrection Connection.*

Though he died in 342, the Church worldwide still commemorates his life, death, and witness every year on December 6.  Nicholas was a bishop from Myra, a city in what is now Turkey.  Today, the average temperature in December is 61 degrees Fahrenheit, much too warm for a red suit and stocking cap if you ask me.  Besides that little is known, but according to Philip H. Pfatteicher in New Book of Festivals and Commemorations (Fortress Press: 2008, 598-9):

In the absence of facts, legends abound [Pastor's warning: some of these are not pretty!].  Nicholas as an infant, it is said, refused to nurse on the ancient fast days of Wednesday and Friday.  He aided the poor and once saved three daughters of a poor man from a life of prostitution by throwing a bag of gold through the window of their home for three successive nights for their dowries; he is therefore the patron of virgins, and the three bags are said to have inspired the traditional pawnbroker's sign.  He miraculously reconstituted two or three boys whom an innkeeper had murdered, cut into small pieces, and put in a brine tub to sell as pickled pork.  He saved three unjustly condemned men from death.  He aided sailors who were in distress off the coast of his diocese, and once on a voyage to the Holy Land showed courage on board ship during a storm, thus becoming the patron of sailors.  He attended the Council of Nicaea and gave the heretic Arius a resounding box on the ear.      

It is from the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas Sinter Klaas that we get the English "Santa Claus."  As you can see, St. Nicholas has come a long way down the chimeny from 4th century Myra to your home today!  So no matter which tradition, you celebrate:

Happy St. Nicholas Day!


*From the Connection: "Little is known about Nicholas, except that he was a bishop in present-day Turkey. According to legend, he was famous for his giving to the poor, and so has become a symbol of anonymous gift-giving."

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