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The Story Of Santa Claus
The story of Santa Claus begins with St Nicholas of Myra who was born in 270 AD in the Greek Colony of Patara in Lycia at a time when the culture of the area was Hellenistic. He was the only son of wealthy Christian parents named Epiphanus and Johanna who died in an epidemic while Nicholas was a boy. He went to live with an uncle, also named Nicholas who was Bishop of Patara.
As Nicholas grew up he developed a reputation as a secret giver of gifts. He would put coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him. He developed a reputation of being a generous giver of gifts. Thus began the tradition of Santa Claus.
One of his most famous stories is when he helped a poor man who had three daughters. In those days a girl needed a dowry before she could marry. The poor man had no such dowry for his daughters and thus they were unable to marry and destined to live on the streets. St Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney for each of his daughters when they reached the age when they could marry.
It is said that the daughters hung their stocking by the chimney to dry and the bag of gold landed in their stockings. The poor man did not know who this generous benefactor was until he stayed up late the night before his third daughter came of age in order to catch the donor. Once identified, Nicholas charged the poor man not to tell where the gold came from but to give thanks to God alone. Obviously, he did not keep it a secret.
The modern day legend of Santa Claus is based largely on the story, "’Twas the Night Before Christmas." The actual name of the poem is A Visit from St. Nicholas. The poem was written in 1822 by Dr Clement Clark Moore, a well educated preacher and teacher who was more noted at the time for writing a Hebrew Lexicon which ministers use when studying the Old Testament. Dr Moore was educated at Columbia University and was an expert in the study of the Saints of the Church. He was very familiar with the stories of Saint Nicholas the third century Bishop of Myra noted for his generosity and gift-giving.
Dr Moore was a warmhearted tolerant and humorous man and his story of Saint Nicholas drew more from the Dutch tradition of the jolly old elf than from his religious training. Dr Moore wrote the poem for the amusement of his children and never gave any thought to publishing it for profit. He began writing the poem during a sleigh ride on his way to buy a Christmas Turkey. His description of Santa may have been based upon Moore’s Dutch handyman, Jan Duyckinck.
When he returned home he wrote the verses down and later that evening read them to his family and six children. Miss Harriet Butler the daughter of Moore’s friend David Butler was a guest in their home at the time, a spacious old fashioned home called Chelsea House. David Butler was the rector of the church at Troy, New York. Harriet later gave a hand written copy of the poem to the editor of the Troy Sentinel. The poem was first printed by that paper the following Christmas.
The readers were as delighted by the story as Moore’s children were and in 1837 the poem was published along with several others in The New York Book of Poetry. It was published again in 1844 as a children’s book with illustrations.
Today his poem is the basis for most of the stories and legends of Santa Claus. Were it not for his description of Santa’s Sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, his suit trimmed with fur and his entrance through the chimney delivering gifts to children who knows how Santa would be characterized or if he would even be a part of today’s Christmas tradition.
I am grateful that this fine Christian man with a jolly and generous spirit wrote this poem that has had such a tremendous impact on our celebration of Christmas! Santa is an illustration of what every Christian should be, generous , loving and accepting of all who approach him, eager to help those in need without taking any credit for himself. May we all seek to be more like Santa in the same way that Santa is seeking to be like Christ.
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."
The Santa Claus Oath
- I will seek knowledge to be well versed in the mysteries of bringing Christmas cheer and good will to all the people that I encounter in my journey and travels.
- I shall be dedicated to hearing the secret dreams of both children and adults.
- I understand that the true and only gift I can give, as Santa is myself.
- I acknowledge that some of the requests I will hear will be difficult and sad. I know in these difficulties there lies an opportunity to bring a spirit of warmth, understanding and compassion.
- I know the "real reason for the season" and know that I am blessed to be able to be part of it.
- I realize that I belong to a brotherhood and will be supportive, honest and show fellowship to my peers.
- I promise to use "my" powers to create happiness, spread love and make fantasies come to life in the true and sincere tradition of the Santa Claus Legend.
- I pledge myself to these principles as a descendant of St. Nicholas the gift giver of Myra.
Santa Ron is available for home visits, corporate or private parties, photoshoots, parades, interviews, commercials or whatever you are interested in.
Rates for appearances start at $100 per hour for appearances in the Sarasota/Bradenton area.
For appearances more than 25 miles away mileage charges will be added and additional charges for time may also be included.
Complimentary appearances may be considered for charitable organizations.
Contact Santa Ron for more details and to book your time.