Meaning behind St. Nicholas Day: who was Nicholas of Myra?
On 6. December 2022 is St. Nicholas Day. But what is the significance of this day at all?? Here we explain who Nicholas of Myra was.
On 6. December 2022 Santa Claus comes to visit many families, for whom empty boots and stockings are provided. According to custom, these are then to be filled overnight by the pre-Christmas visitor.
But why do we celebrate St. Nicholas Day at all?? Who was Nicholas of Myra? Here are the answers.
St. Nicholas 2022: Who was Nicholas of Myra?
The custom of celebrating St. Nicholas originally comes from the veneration of St. Nicholas of Myra. He has been around since the 6th century. Century in legends on. The lore is believed to actually refer to two distinct historical figures that merged over time into one fictional character: Bishop Nicholas of Myra in Lycia, Asia Minor, and Abbot Nicholas of Sion, who was bishop of Pinora.
However, to get to the bottom of the legends is difficult. So there are only a few proven facts about Bishop Nicholas of Myra. According to tradition, Nicholas was born between 270 and 286 in Patara, a small town in Lycia.
At the age of 19, Nicholas is said to have been ordained a priest and bishop of Myra by his uncle. 310 he was then according to traditions during the persecution of Christians imprisoned and tortured. He survived both – and is also said to have been involved in the Council of Nicaea. After his death on a 6. December of the years 345, 351 or 365 Nicholas was buried in his episcopal church.
In the West, Nicholas was known since the 8th century. Century. He was especially venerated, however, after his bones were stolen by Italian merchants in Asia Minor in 1087, brought to Bari in Puglia, and a large basilica was built there for these relics.
Public holidays 2022 and 2023 in Germany: all dates
What do we celebrate on St. Nicholas Day?
What is considered historically confirmed: Nicholas distributed his wealth among the poor. Above all, his generosity is reflected in the Nicholas legends. So, among others, in the story of the dowry donation: A poor man, who for lack of money could not provide his three daughters with a sufficient dowry to marry them off in a manner befitting their station, decided to sell them instead as slaves or prostitutes.
Nicholas, hearing of the plight, threw gold into the chimney of the house where the family lived for several days in a row. The gold fell into the boots and socks hanging there to dry. This is how Nicholas was able to save the three girls from their fate. This is where the custom of putting sweets in boots or stockings comes from.
By the way, an opponent of St. Nicholas was reformer Martin Luther. He considered his worship a "cyndish thing" and tried to move the giving of presents to children to Christmas – through the "Christ Child".
Luther’s mission was not completely successful. St. Nicholas Day has remained until today as a day of small gifts for children. Nicholas has also remained popular as a first name – as Colin, Kai, Claus, Nicolas, Niko, Nils, Nikolai or Nikita.
Is St. Nicholas Day a holiday?
The 6. December is a special date in the calendar, but St. Nicholas Day is not a holiday in Germany. So there is neither free from school nor free from work. The stores are not closed. (AZ)
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