There are many names this time of year; Santa Claus, Kris Kringle, Old Saint Nick, Father Christmas, but where did Santa come from and why does he come down the chimney instead of knocking on the door?
It is said that Santa Claus was a true individual, known as Saint Nicholas, a Bishop from Asia during the fourth century. Saint Nicholas was a son of a wealthy family and inherited his family fortune at a young age upon the death of his parents. Nicholas was a kind individual who helped the poor and in secret shared his wealth with the less fortunate.
It is a story about St. Nicholas that the tradition of hanging stockings on the fireplace is born. It is said that a very poor man had three daughters that were unable to marry because he could not provide a dowry for them. (A dowry was a payment made to the groom on the day of the wedding to marry daughters. They included money, furniture, jewelry and anything valuable.) St. Nicholas heard of the man’s misfortune and decided to help the family.
While he did not deliver his gift the Santa Claus way of climbing down the chimney, he did drop a bag of gold down the chimney. The following morning the man found the bag of gold where it landed, inside a stocking that had been hanging by the fire to dry. With this money the man’s oldest daughter was able to marry. St. Nicholas repeated this for the second daughter in secret but the man wanted to know who was delivering these gifts.
The man waited by the chimney every night to see who was bringing the gold to his daughters. When the man caught St. Nicholas, he was asked not to tell anyone the name of the person bringing the gold, but the word was spread about St. Nicholas and from that point on, anytime a gift was left in secret it was said to be the work of St. Nicholas.*
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