Saint Nicholas also known as Santa Claus, was a real person. He lived in the Fourth Century in the area we now call Turkey. There is no evidence to show that he wore a red suit or that he had a long white beard, but he did wear the bishop’s garb of his day because he was a bishop in the church. He came from a wealthy family so, unlike other priests and bishops of his day, he had money to give away to the poor and needy.
Poor and needy children were especially recipients of Nicholas’ gifts. These were children too poor to have toys, so Nicholas gave them gifts of toys.
There is a wonderful story about how Nicholas rescued three unmarried daughters from a life of prostitution by providing a dowry so they could marry. He did this by throwing coins up on their roof so the coins would come down the chimney. When the family woke up the next morning, they found the money by the fireplace and even in one of the stockings that had been hung there to dry in the heat. From this story we get our modern tradition of hanging stockings by the fireplace, expecting Santa to place good things in them during the night.
We really don’t know much about Saint Nicholas, but we do know that he has inspired us in gift-giving, especially during the holiday season. May we all be so inspired and giving this year!