Born: c. 270 AD
Died: December 6, 343
Feast Day: December 6
Patron: Children, repentant thieves, sailors
Info: Nicholas was a Greek, and lived in Turkey. He was born of a wealthy family. When a plague killed his parents, he was raised by his uncle.
In 325, he was appointed Bishop and appeared at the Council of Nicea, where he signed the Nicene Creed (which we Catholics recite every Sunday. It’s similar to the Apostles’ Creed). Nicholas despised Arius, a council member who believed Jesus was simply a created being and not part of the triune God. He actually slapped Arius for not believing in the true Jesus.
Nicholas became the patron saint of children due to a legend in which a butcher slaughtered three children and hid their remains in a barrel. He learned of this and prayed over the remains. According to the legend, the children were resurrected.
Another famous legend concerns a poor man whose three children but could not afford a dowry. Nicolas intervened and went to his house and three three purses either through an open window or down a chimney (sound familiar?) There is also a story that says he hid money in their shoes or stockings (I have memories in elementary school of children putting out their shoes in front of the door to classes for him to fill on his feast day. But then, this was back when Christianity was more permitted than it is today, sadly.)
Reflection: To me, the story of the real St. Nick is far more compelling than the created version of St. Nicholas. While I really have no issue with the concept of Santa Claus because there is some fact to it, I do take issue with the fact that at Christmastime the media seems to revere him more than the true reason for the season–the birth of Christ. I think the absolute worst example is the Nostalgia Critic’s character, Santa Christ. Here’s what I’m talking about:
Now, I must apologize to anyone who actually likes this character, but I am extremely offended by this sketch (and I’m actually a fan of Doug Walker). I find it appalling and blasphemous. I came very close to sending him a nasty response about it, but I’ve seen how troll-filled his comment section was, so I decided against it. And then he had the audacity to bring him back THREE MORE TIMES!
I see the real St. Nicholas a reminder of how vulnerable children and how we must protect them from evil. I see his defiance of Arius as a model for us all. Now, I don’t mean we should slap all non-believers, but I do feel we should courageously defend Christianity. There is no harm in celebrating Christmas, provided we, as the bumper sticker says “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Revering Santa over Jesus is pure blasphemy.