St. Nicholas – more knowledge about the legend of st. Nicholas day on 6. December

The story of the beautiful custom around the holy bishop

On 6. December is in every ending year for small and big children a celebration in the calendar, which makes the hearts beat faster. St. Nicholas Day is approaching! But what is the custom about the man with the red robe and the white beard?? Where does the custom of putting boots in front of the door for St. Nicholas come from??

And who was St. Nicholas according to tradition?? A A look at the story behind the legend of Santa Claus creates clarity. Fact is: Almost all Christian denominations and religions, even atheists appreciate the day of St. Nicholas, the kind and gentle gift bearer.

Just because St. Nicholas is so popular, every year on St. Nicholas Day the St. Nicholas presents end up in the St. Nicholas boots of all those who have been good. That is why people send beautiful St. Nicholas greetings on St. Nicholas Day. That’s why children and adults love gentle St. Nicholas poems and St. Nicholas songs. St. Nicholas is old cult and new faith or new cult and old faith at the same time.

When and why we celebrate St. Nicholas?

The 6. December is the official anniversary of the death of the name patron Nicholas. On this day, the man of the same name died – Saint Nicholas, who is still highly revered today. His reputation is alive far beyond the church.

To Commemoration of THE St. Nicholas, ergo as a day of remembrance the day is celebrated since many centuries. Because St. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of many people, but more about that in a moment. In any case, it is his good deeds that are celebrated, at least as they are told according to tradition to this day.

Whether Christian or non-Christian: On St. Nicholas Day, believers and also many non-believers celebrate the good customs for which St. Nicholas stands with his name.

His charitable actions are the reason for the holiday. In many countries, St. Nicholas Day even has the status of an official holiday. Especially in countries like Russia, Croatia or Serbia St. Nicholas enjoys the highest social prestige Right up to the present day. Nicholas is the bishop of bishops.

In Germany, although St. Nicholas Day is not a public holiday. But this does not detract from his popularity. Whether Christian, legal or no official holiday – year after year felt four of five people in this country diligently celebrate St. Nicholas and his day.

Who was Saint Nicholas?

Santa Claus goes on the real St. Nicholas of Myra back. So says the historical legend. According to tradition, in the Greek province of Lycia in ancient Myra lived. The place Myra lies today in Turkey, is called in the meantime Demre and lies about 150 kilometers far away from the tourist metropolis Antalya.

Nicholas of Myra was born correctly not in Myra, but in Patara. This is where his biography began. But this town disappeared in the 15. Century after more than 2.000 years of settlement. It did not help that for decades – from century to century and millennium to millennium – it was an important center of trade and culture.

On the anniversary of his death on 6. December we celebrate St. Nicholas of Myra, because as a man and a bishop he stands for all the good things that good Christians should stand for.

The Nicholas’ family was wealthy. Already at the age of 19 years he received from his uncle the ordination to the priest. The life of Nicholas of Myra changed abruptly when his parents fell ill with the plague and died. Saint Nicholas inherited from them a larger fortune.

He decided to distribute this fortune to the poorest people. With it began a series of good deeds and miracles, which were attributed to the saint in the course of the years – partly rightly, partly probably freely invented or to other persons. His relics worldwide are still associated with it today.

Fact check: What the person and legend of St. Nicholas stand for!

  1. Chronology: Nicholas was born between 280 and 286 A.D. The bishop was especially active in the first half of the 4th century. Century. As his biography consists more of legends than of real historical facts, it could have been not only one person, but even several persons.
    It would not be the first time that the work of various idols was combined into one role model in one person. In any case, several stories about him or her, which are said to have happened as St. Nicholas stories in such a way or so similar, are vouched for in essence.
  2. Popularity: It is undeniable that St. Nicholas is one of the most venerated saints of Christianity – from the end of antiquity, through the Middle Ages until today. Nicholas is considered the patron saint of several denominations, countries, places and professions. He may even be the patron saint par excellence. For example, he is known as the patron saint of sailors.
    In France, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of the Lorraine region. In the Netherlands, he’s more important than Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as Sint Nicolaas or Sinterklaas for short. And in Russia, where many tsars traditionally called themselves Nikolai, St. Nicholas is even considered the national patron saint of an entire country.
  3. Values canon: As a priest, bishop and man, St. Nicholas always stood up for the poor and needy. Above all the children were close to his heart. For many centuries until the end of the Middle Ages, the feast of St. Nicholas was the biggest Christian gift-giving feast. St. Nicholas was responsible for gift giving as a gift bearer. That was the gift.
    Giving gifts at Christmas? That hardly existed at that time! It took Martin Luther and the Reformation to change that. In contrast to the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church does not tolerate the veneration of saints next to Jesus Christ. In the meantime, St. Nicholas is once again gaining in importance beyond the churches, at least as a celebration for children.

Historical legends around St. Nicholas

What exactly are the legends, variants and stories?, which make Santa Claus so popular until today? Why do so many Christians in and outside the church venerate him?? On this subject there would be actually almost a separate article to write. In any case, the article here is not enough.

Probably the most famous three among many legends surrounding St. Nicholas are:

  • The dowry donation: According to this story, he was responsible for saving three young daughters of a very poor man from prostitution. Because unrecognized he donated a handsome dowry to the virgins. The money resp. Gold for it he threw them through the window into their boots.
    So the penniless father could marry well the young women with gentlemen from proper house. Until today, St. Nicholas is therefore depicted on images of saints and icons, along with the bishop’s robe, the crosier and the bishop’s mitre – the so-called "bishop’s gift". Mitre – often with three golden balls or apples as holy relics respectively. Insignia displayed.
  • The calming of the sea stormsSeveral times, so the tradition goes, St. Nicholas would have helped sailors in distress in the Mediterranean Sea and saved them from death. With heavy swell and storm he would have appeared to them, would have taken over the rudder and would have brought the winds to the ablauen.
    After St. Nicholas had taken over the navigation and safely steered the respective ship through the storm, even calmed it down, he disappeared again as suddenly as he had come. Thus Nikolaus became by the way the patron saint of the seafarers.
  • The grain miracle: In Myra there was once a great famine. A ship full of grain for the emperor of Byzantium arrived at the port of the city. St. Nicholas managed to convince merchants to leave enough grain to fight famine in the village. At first, the sailors would have refused his request for fear of the emperor.
    But when St. Nicholas assured them they would suffer no disadvantage, they finally agreed. And indeed: when the ship arrived in Byzantium, the cargo did not weigh a gram less. The people in Myra lived however still full two years from the grain. On top of that, there was even enough for a year of sowing.

How do we celebrate St. Nicholas and St. Nicholas Day today??

The customs and traditions of St. Nicholas Day have always adapted and changed a bit. As is always the case with a living tradition. Substantial Customs move with the times And changes imperceptibly, but steadily from year to year. They would not even need relics in and of themselves, but therefore constantly produce new ones.

Today we Germans celebrate the memory of St. Nicholas as follows:

  1. Eve: The children and the young-at-heart adults clean their boots or shoes spotlessly and put them in front of the door. Reciting a St. Nicholas poem or singing a St. Nicholas song are also popular rituals celebrated on the eve of St. Nicholas, full of little arts.
  2. Night: On the night of 5. To the 6. On the eve of December, St. Nicholas comes and fills the shoes of children and people who have been good, with sweets, sweets and small gifts. With naughty children there was and is partly also sometimes coal instead of money or gifts.
  3. St. Nicholas’ Day: After getting up, the children can’t wait to raid their St. Nicholas boots. What St. Nicholas might have put in his Santa’s stocking this time around? Small gifts, great joy! If the gifts were particularly beautiful, St. Nicholas is still pleased on St. Nicholas Day with a beautiful poem in gratitude.

The differences between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus

Because the question comes up again and again: What is the difference between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus, even if you don’t know all the described backgrounds?? Then already simple looking helps! Roughly outlined:

Correct is, both figures wear a red coat, a white razzle-dazzle beard and carry a sack full of presents in December. Only Santa Claus, however, bears the marks of a bishop, already mentioned: the crosier in the hand, the miter on the head and the golden apple in the hand.

Because the church is not equal to the church and the veneration of the saints is considered differentiated, the gift-giving today has rather been taken over by Santa Claus.

Saint Nicholas of Myra is a man of faith, of the church and of the mild gift – a man of God. Santa Claus, which joined Christmas and Advent as a custom much later, does not have these relics – no staff, no bishop’s miter and no golden baubles. If one takes it completely exactly, he carries also no stole over the red coat.

He was never a bishop. He is not even a child of the church and has nothing to do with the veneration of saints. He is rather descended from a romantic fictional character, which was only worn in the 19th century. and 20. The gift-giving that became popular in the twentieth century.

Who are the hardworking helpers and companions of St. Nicholas?

Santa Claus is not the only bearer of gifts who competes with Santa Claus or is connected with him according to old tradition. Depending on the country, custom and church, there are many other figures and legends. For example, almost every child in Germany at least still knows the figure of Knecht Ruprecht.

Today, in the German-speaking and neighboring European countries, the following three helpers and companions of Santa Claus especially enforced:

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