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Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas

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Published by primer_batxillerat

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Published by: primer_batxillerat on Feb 11, 2010
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Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, lived in Turkey during the 4th Century AD.He later emerged in the popular culture as Santa Claus , Saint Nick, Sinter Klaus,and other names. Always, he is a kindly man who gives gifts to others, especially children, during the Christmas season. Gradually, his gifts came to be given onChristmas Eve rather than on the original day for the celebration of Saint Nicholas Day,December 6. Many legends are associated with Nicholas the most famous being the taleof the three sisters.Nicholas was the child of wealthy parents, and when they died, they left Nicholas alarge inheritance at a young age. He was determined to use his fortune to help the lessfortunate. As luck would have it, just a case presented itself to Nicholas when a bankrupt man from the city of Patara came to Nicholas' attention. The man had threedaughters, and because he could not afford to pay for their dowries, they were forced to work under degrading circumstances in order to make money to survive.Nicholas, under cover of night, came to the house and threw a bad of gold into the window. When the family awoke the next morning, they were amazed to find the bag of gold sitting in the middle of their house. The oldest daughter was able to afford herdowry and was soon married.Soon after, another bag of gold appeared, and the second daughter was married.Curious as to who was being so kind, the father hid in the shadows and waited to see if his benefactor would return a third time. When Nicholas crept up to the house andthrew the third bag of gold into the window, the father leapt out and embracedNicholas, thanking him for his generosity and for saving his daughters from a sinfullife.Over time the legend of Nicholas spread far and wide. In Eastern Europe, especially Russia, Nicholas has had a very important role in society since Christianity was firstintroduced there in the 11th Century. Nicholas is the patron Saint of Russia, and hisfeast day of December 6th is seen as one of the most important holy days of the year.Children in Russia, and other Eastern European countries, would leave their shoes outin hopes that Nicholas would come in the night and leave presents of chocolate andfruit for them. December 6th was the day for gift giving in Russia, not December 25th.Christmas, or the Feast of the Nativity as it was known, was a Holy Day completely separate from that of St. Nicholas Day and the practice of giving gifts.
Dutch settlers in America still continue to celebrate this feast day. Their name for SaintNicholas is Sinterklaas. And in English, this became Santa Claus.Father Christmas AKA Santa Claus first appears as a jolly old man as a reaction againstthe Puritans’ resistance to celebrate Christmas. The 17th century English writer BenJohnson gave 'Sir Christmas ' his appearance but it was an American poet whoprovided Sir Christmas with his long fur-trimmed coat, flowing beard and the sleighpulled by reindeers.The early 19th century American poet Clement Clarke Moore established the modernimage of Father Christmas in his much-parodied poem
 A Visit from St Nicholas
morepopularly known as
The Night Before Christmas
.First published in the New York newspaper
The Sentinel 
on Christmas Eve 1823,Moore’s description of St. Nicholas as a white-bearded, round-bellied jolly old man hasremained the popular Western image since then. Moore even gave Father Christmas hiseight reindeer and named them all (Rudolf was not one) set the sleigh on the roof andhad Father Christmas clamber down the chimney to deposit his haul of presents insocks and stockings hung on the mantelpiece.Thomas Nast first drew a jolly, fat-bellied, white whiskered and red-faced old man inthe 1860s for the cover of 
 Harper’s Weekly
and Haddon Sunblom for the Coca ColaCompany adopted this image in the early 1930s and. in doing so the companimmortalised the modern image of Santa Clause. Illustration from 1860 by Thomas Nast. Coca-Cola advertising

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