Santa Claus is an integral character of the Christmas holidays, but not everyone knows that his prototype was a Christian Saint. Here is the history of the Christmas grandfather.

Christmas cookies waiting for Santa, and carrots — his reindeer. And on the morning there will be gifts under the Christmas tree and stockings filled with treats. For most Americans that means Santa Claus. But the history and traditions associated with this Jolly old elf counted already fifteen hundred years. They lead us to the Church of St. Nicholas in Myra, modern day Turkey. Nicholas was born there about 280-year. From his youth he led a righteous life, following God. When his parents died during the plague, Nicholas inherited a huge inheritance. Instead of spending it on himself, he fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and helped those who had money-lenders.

One of his good deeds began our tradition of hanging Christmas stockings. According to legend, one the father of the family was going to be forced to marry off their daughters to pay debts. Learning of this, Nicholas made his way to his house while everyone slept and threw three bags of gold. One of them fell into stockings that were drying by the fireplace.

Nicholas generously shared his wealth, that he lived like a beggar, and sometimes he had nowhere to sleep except the house of God. Seeing his sacrifice for the sake of others, the Church elected Nicholas the Bishop of the region. But that period was difficult for the Church.

One of the worst periods of persecution of Christians began under Emperor Diocletian. At that time, Nicholas spent several years in prison are often subjected to torture. Then the Emperor Constantine fought for control of this area, and saw his famous dream with the character depictions and the words “under this sign you will conquer.” After the victory of Constantine the persecution of Christians ceased and Nicholas was released.

After his release, Nicholas again went to his post. Soon he is rightly considered one of the leading Christian leaders in the Empire. He was one of more than three hundred bishops at the Nicene Council, which approved the Nicene creed with the aim of helping to unite the Church. As a faithful follower of Christ, Nicholas continued to face death threats for the rest of my life, but on a step did not depart from their faith.

His life, Ministry and death is like being enclosed in the Church in the World. He died December 6, 343 and was buried in the sarcophagus around the corner.

For centuries there were many traditions associated with Nicholas. But the most popular was the giving of gifts on the anniversary of his early death in December. It was believed that on the day of memory of Nicholas angels write names into Book of life. This developed into the belief that the elves do keep records, who behaves obediently, and who is not.

Around the world father Christmas appears in different images: from Père Noel in France to the German gift giver Santa Claus, who rides a donkey. In countries such as Norway and Sweden, where horses or donkeys were not many, Nicholas had to drive around a deer. And those eight reindeer, about which we have heard, was invented by Clement Moore in his 1823 poem “a Visit of St. Nicholas, or One night before Christmas.” And just as many believe that Jesus and the saints will return to earth from the heavenly city of New Jerusalem, the home and workshop of St. Nicholas become a North pole. So many of our Christmas traditions associated with the Bible and this pious saints.

But what can we learn from Saint Nicholas? For example, it should be remembered that whatever difficulties in life you always need to first think about God, as did Nicholas. And, of course, the most obvious lesson is that it is more blessed to give than to receive. In the end, that’s exactly what Nikolai and lived his life, following the example of Jesus Christ.

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