Will The Real Santa Clause Please Stand Up?
He may live at the North Pole now, but where did Santa Claus come from?
The modern incarnation of the jolly old gent, is based on a real-life saint, whose name was Nicholas. He hailed from the city of Myra, in Turkey, a much warmer place than where his fictional doppleganger lives now.
There are few confirmed facts known about Nicholas' background or family, except that he appeared destined for the church from an early age. Entering a monastery near Zion, he studied for the priesthood and eventually became the Abbot. Later in his life, which spanned over 70 years circa 270-342A.D., he would become the Archbishop of Myra.
In his role as spiritual father of the faithful, Nicholas saw much of the suffering experienced by the poor. He wanted to help, but was reluctant to do so publicly, and so it was his secret assistance to the less fortunate, particularly children, that earned him the reputation of generosity. In ancient portraits, he is shown as an aesthetic looking gentleman with a beard, and predominantly red robes. December 5th or 6th, is the feast of St. Nicholas, following the tradition of celebrating the life of a saint, on the day they died.
In Holland, where even their linguistic name Sinterklass resembles Santa Claus, December 5 is celebrated as St. Nicholas' Eve, when children may expect to go to bed and wake up to presents from the saint, a practice that eventually spread to many countries who embraced the spirit and the name of Saint Nicholas.