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Who was the real Santa Claus?
We all know the story of Christmas. At least we think we do. Ceasar Augustus for puposes of tax collection, demanded a census to be taken and all of his subjects to be counted. Having to comply, a man named Joeseph took his soon to be wife with him on the long journey to Bethlehem, the city of his birth. The woman was pregnant. Mary had a baby on a cold night in a livery stable.
Myths of Persians and Greeks told that each star in the sky had a spirit. The Magi from Babylon, now Bagdad, studied astrology. Believing the study of the stars gave them wisdom they concluded that a child was to be born in the east. This child would become a great king. The king was born in poverty and powerlessness in seclusion in a violent world. Ancient Iranian religious culture kept a legend that there was a redeemer who would come to the earth at three births. There would be an early figure and a later figure that would come to the world twice. The later would return at the end of the earth. These legends existed long before the founding of the Christian religion. So, as the story goes three star worshers called Magi traveled east in search of the new born king and found him lying in a manger with his mother Mary.
This story brought a new religion into the world. It was a religion where ultimate love was the ruler. Many have so distorted the original message of love, joy, and peace yet it continued to spread across the world. Ancient Paegan Gauls and Britons who once celebrated winter soltice began celebrating the life of Christ as Bishops and Maters traveled to far away lands spreading the story of the Christ who died on the cross.
According to the Educator's Volume Library, a Bishop of the Catholic Church who came from Myra in Lycia, (what is now Turkey) was stationed in sabatical in the land of Holland. During his missionary stay he performed many acts of kindness and was known to leave coins and gifts in shoes of peasant children and giving charity to those living dreadfully poor in a fuedalistic society. His name is recorded as Nicolas. His Christian name was Kris Kringle. He died between 345 and 352 just three hundred years after Christ.
Contrary to popular belief he is not the patron Saint of Holland but rather the Patron Saint of children. Some cities have honored him by sanctifying him. He became the Patron Saint of Amsterdam and Aberdeen.
For years the English celebrated a twelve day long holiday called Christes Messe, Latin for Christ's Mass. In 1644 Puritans complained of too much merry making and put an end to the festivities. When Christmas returned it became only a one day celebration. In the 16th century those German's celebrating the Weihnaughten feast began decorating Christmas trees.. Eastern Churches celebrated on January 6th, and some still do, January 6 is Ephiphany. Some call this little Christmas or the day the wise men arrived at the stable.The French call it Noel meaning birthday. The Dutch spread the story of St. Nicolas to the new world and the Dutch traditions were practiced in the New Amsterdam Colony in North America.
Christians believe that all spirits will join together in heaven where all deeds will be counted good or bad. In that way Santa lives in spirit with Christ and all his followers. It may not be at the north pole but, I know in my heart that heaven is somewhere beyond our understanding and way beyond our anticipated expectations.
By Joanne Kathleen Farrell