The Real Santa Claus

Orthodox Icon of St. Nicholas

I usually post once a week, but after reading this article, I got so angry and felt I should do something about it.

The whole world knows Santa Claus as a symbol for Christmas, but only a few know the truth about him. Reading his biography, I fell in love with the true him, and saw him as a role model.

St. Nicholas was a true servant of God, he served in secret, as not to boast. He was also a true leader, who led by actions and not just words. And finally, a true teacher, which was apparent by his zeal towards the sound doctrine at the Council of Nicaea against Arius.

The Coptic Orthodox Church, celebrates today the departure of St. Nicholas.

St. Nicholas at Church is known to have three titles:

  1. St. Nicholas the Bishop of Myra
  2. St. Nicholas the Wonder-Worker
  3. St. Nicholas the Confessor

He is also known as the person who, in his zeal, struck Arius with his hand, see icon 1 and icon 2.

For this act, he was removed from the Council and from his episcopal duties, until some of the chief hierarchs had a vision of our Lord Christ and His most holy Mother showing their sympathy with Nicholas.

You can know more about him when you read St. Nicholas’ biography in the Synaxarium (the “Lives of the Saints”), this is a free online version of the book. Usually the Synaxarium has an abridged version of the story so here’s the rest.

Why do Orthodox Churches celebrate the departure of Saints?

Well, there are two biblical reasons:

(1) God asked us to remember them

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. (Hebrews 13:7)

We also believe that when Jesus asked the disciples to tell the whole world about the woman who anointed Him at Bethany, He meant every one who “has done a beautiful thing to [Him]” (Mark 14:6) not just that woman.

Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. (Mark 14:9)

(2) Their lives are edifying

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. (Hebrews 13:7)

The Church, daily, celebrates the departure of saints, in order to learn from their lives. They were humans, they had their falls and had their rises, but it’s their faith that led them to the Kingdom of God. The Bible also was very precise that we should consider the outcome of their way of life, not giving ourselves excuses that they fell, so it’s alright that we fall.

After reading St. Nick’s biography, what do you think of him?


12 thoughts on “The Real Santa Claus

  1. Pingback: The Narrow Path
  2. Well done with this post Mike. I don’t think many people know about the History of Santa Claus and only remember the new icon in rememberance of St. Nicholas’ Legacy.

    A little tid bit to add: The name Nikolaos the Wonderworker (Νικόλαος ὁ Θαυματουργός, Nikolaos ho Thaumaturgos) came about because he had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and thus became the model for Santa Claus,

    I’m gonna twitter this post.

    1. Wow, Sherline, I didn’t know any of the readers would be interested in the Greek terminology. I actually had “Thaumaturgy” as one of the tags to the post. Thank you!!! 🙂

      In addition to your comment, the title “Wonder-worker”, was also given to him, because God gave him the gift to work signs and wonders and to heal the sick.

      I’m also not sure if readers are familiar with the term “Confessor” (Omologitis, in Greek); this is a title given to those who have suffered persecution, but have not been martyred. Usually this title was given to those who were released from imprisonment after God perished Diocletian and established the reign of Constantine.

      Thank you so much, Sherline, for your beautiful comment and for sharing the post on twitter. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Cappy, I never knew that St. Basil for the Greeks is the inspiration for Santa Claus … Very interesting!
      Actually at Church, we pray the liturgy written by St. Basil.
      Thanks 🙂

  3. Thank you, Mike, for setting the story straight. I have a friend who was given much grief for letting her son ( with special needs ) believe in Santa Claus when it was brought up at a small church group gathering. But there are some wonderful things to know and think about St. Nicholas. His faith and life encourage me in mine.
    God bless you!

    1. I’m not actually familiar with the consequences of a child with special needs to believe in Santa Claus.
      I’m actually not against the image of Santa Claus people know now, he’s actually a symbol of giving, joy and kindness, I’m just against what the article wrote about Santa being inspired by god Woden. Thanks, Deb! 🙂

  4. Mike,

    The part of your post that spoke most to me was that he was removed from the Council and from his episcopal duties [for standing up for the Lord against the blasphemer, Arius], until some of the chief hierarchs had a vision of our Lord Christ and His most holy Mother showing their sympathy with Nicholas.

    We should always stand up for the Lord–no matter what the consequences. God is with us and we should fear no human. Nicholas was truly a saint. His actions are saintly. Thank you for this, Mike. I also appreciate an introduction [for me, anyway] into your church’s writings and history. I also appreciate the Greek lesson in the comments between you and Sherline.

    You bless me,

    1. That’s true Dawn! Although this part also touched me the most, I was afraid that people would think I’m pro violence. The fact that Jesus and Mary appeared in a vision to chief hierarchs shows the purity of his intentions.
      I’m happy you liked the briefing about how the Church perceives the remembrance of those who have done for Jesus something beautiful.
      For your last point, I actually don’t know Greek that well, I mostly know church and biblical terms, but can’t for example read a book or enter a conversation in Greek 😦
      Thank you so much Dawn for the sincerity in your reply! 🙂

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