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by Murrell Selden 12/19/98 Revised 10/09/2015
Santa Claus is an American adaptation of European traditions about Saint Nicholas, as introduced by Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam. It derives from the Dutch "Sinter Nicholas" who was also known as "Sinter Klaas." His traditional feast day was December 6th. But he has developed into a purely secular figure. His legendary activities derive from Dutch fairy tales, and his red suit derives from the clothing of Dutch bishops [read robes with white fur]. Others involved in the fairy tales were the Scandinavians [reindeer and the North Pole], the stories of Washington Irving, the cartoons of Thomas Nast , and the poem by Clement Moore [who wrote "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" in 1822].
Saint Nicholas [died about 350 C. E.] was a bishop of the church of Myra, Lycia, Anatolia. I believe that is a port in Italy where the Apostle Paul stopped briefly before his shipwreck at Malta [at St. Paul's Bay, of course]. This Saint Nicholas was know for his kindness and fruitages of the spirit. It is said that on three occasions he tossed a bag of gold through a poor family's window, thus providing a dowry to procure for each daughter an honorable marriage. So, the custom was established of giving gifts on his feast day.
However, Santa Claus has nothing to do with the festival of Christmas (which many suppose to be the feast of the birth of Jesus and celebrated from December 25th through January 6th). Since 274 C. E., the Roman emperor Aurelian, has had Rome celebrate the feast of the "Invincible Sun" on December 25th. The Eastern Church had celebrated a feast of the "Invincible Sun" on January 6th. Earlier the date was the solstice (about Dec. 21st), but it was moved to Dec. 25.
Neither Santa Claus nor the feasts to the "Invincible Sun" have anything at all to do with the birthday of Jesus or to his conception. The time period of the feast of the birth of Jesus (on a solar calendar basis) corresponds to the period when the baby Jesus was living in Egypt and was able to return to Bethelehem of Judea (later when his family heard that Herod the Great had died in January). It was a time of troubles for the family of Jesus. For Herod the Great, it was a period of pain and death. Very likely, for the family of Jesus, it was a time of prayer and supplication to the ultimate Santa Claus, grandmaster of the universe, Jehovah (Almighty God). But, He is genuine, not a legend! He is the source of all good things and the answerer of prayers.
Click on the Santa to return to the page on the birth of Jesus.