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Saint Nicholas

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St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas

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Definition: St. Nicholas Day is December 6. St. Nicholas is a legendary figure connected with Christmas gift-givers like Santa Klaus. He is thought to have lived in the 4th century, and to have been born in Lycia in Asia Minor. He was probably bishop in the Lycian city of Myra at the time of the Emperor Diocletian and may have been present at the Council of Niceas under Constantine, although his name is excluded from lists of attending bishops.

Nicholas is thought to have been wealthy and to have given his gold away to help others. There is a story that he provided bags of gold as dowries for three daughters of a poor man to keep them from having to become prostitutes.

Nicholas is credited with raising three boys from the dead. They had been murdered and put in a brine barrel.

It is claimed that he attacked an Arian for his heresy and destroyed pagan temples.

In Constantinople, Emperor Justinian (d. A.D. 565) dedicated a church to St. Nicholas who in the intervening 2 centuries had become famous.

St. Nicholas is a patron saint of sailors, merchants, archers, children, and students.

During the Reformation, Martin Luther replaced the celebration of St. Nicholas with a Christkind 'Christ Child' celebration on Christmas Eve. The Christkind morphed into Kris Kringle, who came to be identified with Santa Claus.

The name Santa Klaus comes from St. Nicholas: The Dutch Sint-Niklaas was shortened to Sinterklaas and Americanized to Santa Claus.

Sources:

Also Known As: St. Nick, Santa Claus, Kris Kringle

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