7:51 am

Everything has its beginning. Yet as history unfolds, our truths are buried and our stories change—ever so slightly at first. 

With the passage of time, things that once really happened may be construed as legend or tale. Eventually we lose track of our beginnings. In a sense, we leave a piece of ourselves behind. 

So what about Western culture’s legendary icons?—those whose stories have endured throughout the years? Do we really know from where our heroes came? 

Consider for a moment one of our favorite men, still alive today. A man who magically enters our homes on the eve of Christmas to bestow blessings of candy and toys to our beloved children. 

We know this man as Santa, and he is surely supernatural. He defies time and space over a single night. He gives his heart to children across the Earth before the sun ever rises, regardless of continent or country. 

This man, he must breath pure goodness—or how else could we explain our absolute trust as he drops in while we sleep?

But what is most amazing: he has maintained a state of “jolly” for centuries long, and his skin has kept its rosy glow. Yet after all these years of his bringing us good tidings, do we really know who he is?  

Perhaps there is but one important thing to know. Santa grew from a seed of compassion—he sprouted from a single act of giving. And so did his mission: to give of himself to others for the rest of his life. Actually, this is the mission of a saint.

In this case, our saint was born Greek around 300 A.D. in what is now known as Turkey. He was given the name Nicholas by his parents. He came from wealth, but as a devout Christian, believed in giving his riches to the poor. 

This act of compassion, the real magic of Santa, the seed that birthed his generous spirit: It’s a famous tale that has been passed down for years. 

Legend says St. Nicholas saved three sisters and their poor and desperate father from a horrible fate. The father was on his last leg. A lost soul, he didn’t know what to do. He was about to sell his daughters into prostitution and slavery. By tossing a bag of gold into the father’s home, Nicholas saved the family, providing a dowry for the daughters.

While this bag of gold was likely tossed in the home through an open window or door—it was just one of many bags to come as time progressed. St. Nick—or Santa—would bless families thereon by carrying bags full of gifts into homes, down chimneys.

St. Nicholas became a patron saint to the poor, to children, and to sailors. There are countless others who pray to Nicholas for hope. One story tells of Nicholas working miracles to save an entire Russian city from attack. 

Through these acts of generosity, St. Nick became the embodiment of giving. And so now the spirit of Santa lives on forever—in us—when we act in accordance. Therefore, let it be our wish to express it, through goodwill and compassion, not just during the holiday, but through all seasons of the year. Let the magic of Santa shine.

Santa Clause Notes & Sources: history.com, stnicholascenter.org, npr.org