Growing up, I was the “Why?” kid.
“Mom, why does that boy have his ears pierced?”
“Mom, why can’t I jump from the deck onto the trampoline?”
“Mom, why do I have to clean my room?”
“Mom, why does a bed HAVE to have a bed skirt?” (…We were from Virginia for all of you who don’t know what a bed skirt is…)
“Mom, why do forks go on the left?”
Why? Why? Why? Why? WHY!?
I was slightly obsessed with obtaining the right to know why…and I’m certain that I was not alone in this.
So, for all you other “Why? Kids” out there, this article is for you.
Why Santa Claus: Who is he? Where did he come from? WHY do we care?
The legend of Santa Claus began during the third century in a little village called Patara, now known as the city of Demre in southern Turkey. There, lived a boy by the name of Nicholas who was born into a wealthy and affluent family. Unfortunately, when Nicholas was very young, both of his parents died tragically. Nicholas’ parents had raised their son to be a devout Christian, and it was due to his belief in Jesus Christ, that young Nicholas was led to give the entirety of his inheritance toward helping the poor, mainly children. Nicholas was known to frequently give gifts to orphan children, most notoriously by hanging socks (or stockings) filled with treats and presents at the foot of their bed. However, perhaps his most famous service was to a family of three sisters. During that time, to marry off one of your daughters required you to pay the suitor a significant dowry. Given the poverty of this family, there was no dowry to be had for these three sisters, and in turn, they were faced with a life of potential slavery. However, mysteriously, on three separate occasions, a bag of gold was found on the doorstep of the family providing enough wealth for a suitable dowry for each sister. Sometimes the story was told that the bag of gold was thrown through an open window landing in pairs of shoes by the fireplace. This led local children to begin leaving their shoes and socks by the fireplace in hopes that they too would wake to find a bag of gold left for them.
Nicholas was known throughout the land for his generosity and heart for children, those in need, as well as his concern for ships and sailors. As a result of these characteristics, he was voted the Bishop of Myra, (a port city in southern Turkey) and asked to participate in the Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325, in order to defend the deity of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
After his death on December 6, AD 343, Nicholas was made a Saint, and the anniversary of his death became a holiday celebration. Later on, St. Nicholas Day merged with the celebration of Christmas when Martin Luther replaced the image of St. Nicholas with that of the Christ Child, making the Christ Child the center of the holiday celebration.
There have been just as many adaptations of the story of St. Nicholas, as there have been names for him; Sinterklass in Holland, Christkindl (which became Kris Kringle) in Germany, and eventually the English version of Santa Claus.
The legend of Santa Claus is most likely strewn with a plethora of folklore from around the world. Stories of St. Nicholas casting out demons that were sent to terrorize children were mixed with stories of shaman from Siberia (near the North Pole region) coming down the chimneys of homes and leaving gifts of intoxicating mushrooms. Which, according to the legend, the mushrooms were left by the fireplace in order to dry, and then reindeer would then find them, eat them, and become intoxicated themselves. It is most often thought that it is the mixture of these stories that gives us the story of Santa Claus we know today; a man who, guided by a team of flying reindeer, enters our homes through our chimney and leaves presents for all the good little boys and girls.
It was in the early 20th century when Santa Claus began to make his way into retail stores that he really became the staple of the holiday season in America.
Perhaps we are a far cry away from what this holiday was truly intended for; to honor not simply a man who loved and served Jesus Christ faithfully, but in turn, to celebrate the true affection of that man. The ultimate gift giver, and lover of all.
So my friends, ‘Tis the season of Truth.
The Why Kid