So you were told as a kid that a man in red sneaks into homes on the night of Christmas eve to give presents. That Santa Claus on a sledge and reindeers is a lot of modern day hype and consumerism. But there was a real Santa Claus! He was a Christian by the name of Nicholas. There are a lot of facts that might surprise you as we head towards Christmas.
James Rosenthal is an Anglican Minister who heads up the ‘St. Nicholas Centre’, and he joined us to share some history and insights into the truth about Santa Claus.
There are dozens of images of St Nicholas in England, and over 400 churches are named after him. Yet there remains a certain ignorance about the person and his excellent tradition. “I went on a spiritual journey,” says James. “To see how I could be more like this man of God in what I did.”
The Meaning of Santa Klaus
“There is less and less talk about the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. But I wanted to give this Santa Claus a test. I wanted know his real name, his real function, and bring him back to who he was in light of our own faith.”
Santa means Saint Klaus and is half of the word Nikolaus. The whole attempt at changing the name was to take away the religious aspects. The name Saint Nicholas is Christian. He lived a Christian life, and he was a generous minister.
“All the things about him point to why he did what he did,” continues James. “It was because of the commands of our Lord Jesus Christ. To do good and to speak the truth in love.”
Nicholas firmly believed in the fact that Jesus Christ was both God and man, but others didn’t. The famous story of Nicene is that a well-known Bishop was waxing eloquently about this, and Nicholas slapped him across the face because he was denying the divinity of Christ.
Whether that story is true or not, Nicholas stands for faith. He stands for undeniable faith in who Jesus Christ is. So naturally he is known as Santa Claus or Father Christmas. When you give the man back his title, his clothes and his roots, he’s the perfect person to bring us back to Bethlehem.
One of the best stories about St. Nicholas emphasizes his generosity. He was a rich man, and his parents died young. He also knew the value of story. And where did he learn that from? He learned it from Jesus Christ of course who teaches us in parables.