Millions of parents around the world take part in the biggest deception about Santa Claus each year around Christmas time. This begins in the early years of a child ‘s life when the parents pledge good behavior with an abundance of gifts from Santa.
They tell stories of the North Pole, of the fat man who lives there, and of the elves who make all shapes and sizes present. Many parents also take kids to Lapland, where the misled kids spend their first years of life believing in flying reindeer.
In later years , parents admit wrongly to their kids that Santa Claus wasn’t real and that he’s just a nice part of Christmas. The sad fact is that maybe Santa is not alive and kicking but he was a real person.
He also dropped presentations of chimneys down and his biography actually starts in Turkey, not the North Pole. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the city where his reputation had been made, but I figured that a bit of history was needed to explain the story.
Six Facts You Never Knew about Santa Claus and Turkey
1 – Santa Claus was born between 260 and 280 AD in the town of Patara, on the south west coast of Turkey. Technically, Turkey’s republic was not established until 1923 and if you want to cut hairs then Patara was under Lycian rule at the time.
2 – The true name of Santa Claus was Nicholas and, in adulthood, he became the bishop of Myra, a town further up the Patara coast. It is now known as Demre.
3-When the parents of Nicholas died, they left him a lot of money and made him a rich man. He wanted to support the needy, but he wanted to do it in secret, so the agile bishop used to climb the roofs of the houses of the citizens and drop coins down the chimney. One day, a resident caught him in action and showed to the town his good nature.
4 – A monument was erected in the town at the time of his death, but it would have been many years until he received the most sacred titles and it was like St. Nicholas. He also became patron saint of sailors but more importantly of children as he was known for offering them good conduct nuts, fruits and sweets. Bribery was alive back then, and even kicking.
5 – December 6 is associated with the feast of St Nicholas and, subsequently, the bishop announced the birth of Jesus on December 25. The two celebrations began to fuse over time and that was the first link between the traditions of Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas and Christmas Day.
6 – Drawings of St Nicholas aka Santa Claus with a beard, pipe and a large belly appeared in the late 1800’s. This had started to turn a modest saint named Nicholas into a fat, beautiful man who feasts on thin pies and gets trapped in chimneys. (God knows how the North pole, the faithful elves and the flying reindeer came about)
Over the years, Santa Claus’ true story has been concealed in the darkness, known only to those who are religious or who wish to track back the past of St. Nicholas or the rituals of Christmas Day.
Church of Saint Nicholas, in Demre
During my recent tour of the Lycian way in Turkey, I visited St. Nicholas Church where I gained a great insight into the humble origins of the man who eventually became known as St. Claus.
Located in the town of Demre (far from the North Pole!), the church is open daily and special celebrations are held on 6 December for the day dedicated to St. Nicholas. It is also the church that retains its original sarcophagus since Italian sailors stolen his bones in the 10th century and they are now preserved in a church on Italy’s south-east coast.
Special Notes: It is important to be polite when you join the church, even if you are not religious, because there are many queuing up to visit St. Nicholas’s sarcophagus and also pray in the main hall.
All parents request: Well, I get it! Santa Claus, reindeer, elves and the North Pole’s commercialized story is more convincing when it comes to trying to get naughty kids to act. So as they grow older, instead of making a confession that you’ve been lying to them for the first years of their lives, tell them about St. Nicholas, his roots, and how he won him his good deeds, a place in the hearts of children all over the world.
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