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    NORPAC members were very lucky to have Santa Trever as our Chairman for the last few years. Under his leadership the group has grown, we are inclusive of all, Great work Trever. Thank you. You will be missed.
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    cool - fighting the Belscnickel - sounds interesting - wondering how they are going to script that out ? ? ? Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn return as Mr. and Mrs. Santa in Christmas Chronicles 2 Entertainment By Bradley Lamb - December 8, 2019 Up News Info – Real life couple Kurt russell and Goldie hawn they return to work as Santa and Mrs. Claus for a sequel to the 2018 Netflix movie "Christmas chronicles". Goldie visited Instagram on Friday, December 6 to announce that she and her longtime partner will return as the Clauses in "The Christmas Chronicles 2"at the end of next year. "A year later and I'm still playing Santa's bells," he captioned a photo of the couple in their costumes posing in front of a snowy background. "I couldn't be happier to be working on @christmaschronicles again with Kurt Russell, my real life Santa @netflix 2020." In the new movie, Russell's Santa Claus joins a teenager to fight a mythical troublemaker, named Belsnickel. Source: https://upnewsinfo.com/2019/12/08/kurt-russell-and-goldie-hawn-return-as-mr-and-mrs-santa-in-39-christmas-chronicles-2-39/
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    Mayberry town drunk Otis Campbell was also Santa Claus for a generation of kids July 17, 2019, 10:16AM By MeTV Staff Otis Campbell eventually found his redemption. Throughout The Andy Griffith Show, the hiccuping sot repeatedly found himself behind bars in the Mayberry jail. Heck, he often let himself into the cell. In "The Case of the Punch in the Nose," we learn that ol' Otis was first arrested for drunkenness on way back in 1941 (at the Mayberry Garden Club, at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday). But in Return to Mayberry, the 1986 reunion movie, Otis is working as an ice-cream man, having been sober for years. (Though, five years later, Otis turned up in an Alan Jackson music video, drunk as ever.) The irony is that Hal Smith, the actor who portrayed Otis Campbell, never had a drink in his life, at least according to Andy Griffith himself in a 2003 interview with Larry King. Smith has quite the range, especially behind the microphone. The character actor voiced dozens of cartoon characters, from Owl in Winnie the Pooh to Flintheart Glomgold in DuckTales. But his most recurring role might be that Jolly Old Elf from the North Pole. Source: https://metv.com/stories/mayberry-town-drunk-otis-campbell-was-also-santa-claus-for-a-generation-of-kids?fbclid=IwAR25TMPIXdAubnKePvn6qaWqRMusAYkg1C9b8U1I_hroJI6__1ngKqxqCww
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    Each month, our Featured Member section profiles a ClausNet member. Members are chosen totally at random by me and the staff. Once selected as Featured Member of the Month, we interview the candidate and post the interview here. This is a wonderful way to get to know your fellow ClausNet members! We are happy to announce our ClausNet Featured Member for February 2020 is Santa Bill III! Santa Bill III Featured ClausNet Member – February 2020 Profile: Santa Bill III Real Name: Bill Location: Lititz, Pennsylvnia USA ClausNet member since: September 18, 2019 Community Reputation (as of today): 323 – Awesome! This month's Feature Member joined the ClausNet Community back in September 2019. Santa Bill III has been donning the red suit for the past 12 years and he gets to work in a castle! We caught up with Santa Bill a few days ago, and here is what he had to say... ClausNet: How long have you been portraying Santa Claus and how did you get started? Bill: "I have been dressing in the Red for 12 years. I work for a regional grocery chain. In December we would have what they call a Holiday Fest at each store. I was the assistant store manager at a smaller store that had it’s own suit (not a very good suit). After some coaxing by the store manager, I tried on the suit and it fit." "We held our Fest and urged customers to take picture of their children with Santa. I had one little boy that saw me in my chair, he came running up and gave me a big hug and a picture he had drawn with himself and Santa. That is all it took. I was hooked. After the Christmas season, I went to a Party City store and bought one of their better suits (not a very good one, but I didn’t know that at the time). Each year I would use it for the Fest at the store I was at and also walk around on Christmas Eve morning greeting children, handing out candy canes and having picture taken with them. Four years ago, I was on the computer and saw an ad from Get the Picture Corp (they take ride photos at some amusement parks and other venues) for a Santa position at Dutch Wonderland (a Children’s Amusement Park in Lancaster Pennsylvania). I sent in my resume, on the cover letter I put that I have a white beard and do not need stuffing." "The next day I got a phone call and did a phone interview and was asked to have a face to face meeting the next week. After the face to face I was hired the next week. The park is open on Saturdays and Sundays for their Winter Dutch Wonderland, so I was able to fit it in with my with work schedule. I have such a great time, that I feel guilty getting paid to do it. The next year I purchased a good quality suit for my own use. This past year, I had just picked up my suit on a Tuesday in October and then on Friday evening my Mrs. and I were in a vehicle accident that put us in the hospital for two weeks for our injuries with which we are still recovering (working hard to go back to work in the near future). Needless to say, I had to miss this past season in the the Red Suit. I did put it on to take some pictures with one of my daughter’s students and her brother and sister (all high school students), they gave the picture to their mother for a Christmas present, she cried when they gave it to her." ClausNet: What or who are your influences on your portrayal of Santa Claus? Bill: "My biggest influences are the children, I just want to strive to be there for them and bring the joy of Christmas to them." ClausNet: What do you enjoy most about being Santa Claus? Bill: "Receiving the unconditional love from children. I find it a true expression of Grace." ClausNet: What do you enjoy the LEAST about being Santa Claus? Bill: "Not being able to get every child to come up to me for a picture. The ones that are afraid, I try to have fun with them to get them to relax around me. It works about 80% of the time, then I offer a candy cane and tell them that photographer wants to take a picture of the candy cane with them holding it. That normally brings it up to about 95%. The other 5%, I would give mom or dad a candy cane to pass on to the child and most times I would get a wave as they were leaving." ClausNet: What is your most memorable visit? Bill: "That is a tough question. I would have to say on Christmas Day of 2017 is my most memorable. Our family gets together on Christmas Day in the afternoon or evening, we eat and exchange gifts. My son wanted to have it at his house that year. He and his wife wanted to invite her family for the meal too. I asked them if they wanted me to bring my suit to have some fun with her parents, the plan was I would come in with my suit on and tell them that I had found some small gifts under the sleigh seat when I was cleaning up from my ride the night before that had their names on and brought it for them. My son said yes that would be fun, but don’t bring the presents, he would take care of that." "So that day we ate our meal with both families. As we were sitting around the table talking during dessert. I snuck away to the basement, put on the Red and went around to the back door with a bag of presents. I made my entrance, everyone came and sat in the living room. I pulled out a present read the name that was on it and handed it out. There was a present for mom’s, dad, grandmas, grandpa, sisters, brothers and nephew on both sides of the families." "After they were handed out, my son said there was one that must have fallen out. It was for Santa. We all opened them at the same time. Each package had a photo in with the picture of my son, his wife and the recipient of the gift. On the front it said the first picture of (whatever was the theme of the picture) and on the back was Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and June of 2017. My daughter in law family and some of our family for it right away. It okay me a little longer. Mine had Grandpa on it (I didn’t think much about it, I already had a grandson), then everyone said read the back, about a minute later it hit me. THEY WERE HAVING A BABY! We didn’t think they were going to have children." ClausNet: Do you have a favorite gig? Bill: "I would have to say Dutch Winter Wonderland. It is so much fun. We have the regular sessions, on Saturdays, one hour before the park opens they have cookies with Santa. On Sundays, for two hours before the park opens they have Quiet Time with Santa. It is fifteen minute time slots that parents of special needs children sign up for, so the little ones don’t or who can’t wait in a line to see Santa have an opportunity to do so. After their visit with Santa they are invited to take a train ride around the park, just with their family." ClausNet: What is your dream gig? Bill: "I would have to say that I am doing it at Dutch Winter Wonderland." ClausNet: What keeps you busy when you are not being Santa? Bill: "Normally (not counting this past year) I work for a regional grocery chain. I have been there for 44 years, as I am getting closer retirement (still a years away) I have stepped down in responsibilities and run the dairy department (I work 40 hours and can go home and not worry about the store)." ClausNet: What are your hobbies / interests? Bill: "Church and I am involved with the Boy Scouts. I was the Scoutmaster of our Troop for many years. Last year I stepped down to help set up a Troop for girls that is linked with our boy Troop and coordinate the two units." ClausNet: What is your favorite color? Bill: "Red of course. Is there any other color." ClausNet: What is your favorite food? Bill: "My favorite is pasta and chicken." ClausNet: Coke or Pepsi? Bill: "That is a tough one too. I lean more toward Coke." ClausNet: What is your favorite cookie? Bill: "Oatmeal Raisin or any other fresh cookies." ClausNet: What is your favorite movie? Bill: "My all time favorite is BIG with Tom Hanks." ClausNet: Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? Bill: "Each year I make sure my Mrs. and I watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation." ClausNet: What is your favorite Christmas song? Bill: "Christmas Canon by Trans-Siberian." ClausNet: What was the last book that you read? Bill: "Boys in the Boat." ClausNet: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Bill: "I have always wanted to try retirement and do some community volunteering." ClausNet: What profession would you not like to attempt? Bill: "Marathon Runner." ClausNet: What were some of your favorite toys as a child? Bill: "Hot Wheel, Erector Set and building things." ClausNet: What is your most memorable experience of Santa while growing up? Bill: "I am the youngest in my family of five. I am nine years behind the sister before me (my name was Oops). So growing up some of my siblings were married and had family of their own. My parents would have our Christmas on Christmas Eve, so the families could spend Christmas in their own homes. When I was little, they would have me take a bath in the early evening. By the time I was done and came downstairs, there would be presents under our Christmas tree. Santa had come when I was in the tub. I missed him!" "The next year the same thing. I MISSED HIM AGAIN!!! The next year I was not going to take the bath, so I would not miss him. That year I was old enough to help, put presents under the tree. The past few years I wanted to get my picture with Santa with my family. Needles to say I kept missing him. The picture would have my Mrs., my son, my daughters, spouses my grandsons and SANTA, never me in it (I MISSED HIM AGAIN!!!). This year, because of the accident, I was able to get my picture with." ClausNet: What is the hardest question you have gotten as Santa Claus and what was your response? Bill: "It was not a question, but a comment by a mother in the background. I asked the child what he wanted for Christmas? Before he answered, his mother standing in the back, whispered “He celebrates Hanukah”. This caught me off guard. After some quick thinking, I replied “What would you like for Hanukah?”. Everything worked out fine." ClausNet: What is the strangest request you have gotten as Santa Claus? Bill: "The strangest was in one evening I had three children ask for Polaroid cameras and film (I didn’t think they knew what film let alone Polaroids were, this is a digital generation)." ClausNet: How did you find ClausNet? Bill: "This past September, I attend the Santa Gathering at Willow Valley near Lancaster. Someone in one of the seminars said it was a great place to get information and learn." ClausNet: And what do you like most about ClausNet? Bill: "Everyone is willing to help each other to become the best in our craft of portraying Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elves, etc. ClausNet offers so much advice and ideas to allow us to bring more joy to children that we touch in or lives!" ClausNet: Is there a Santa or Mrs. Claus over the years that you admire or has inspired you? Can you tell us a little bit about him/her? Bill: "Santa Bill Neely is one I admire. I have been doing Winter Dutch Wonderland and had heard of an man that works in customer service during the regular Dutch Wonderland season that looks like Santa. This past year I had season passes and finally got to meet the the other guy that looks like Santa at the park. We were there with our grandson walking through the park and my Mrs. said “There he is”. My response was “Who?”, she said “The other Santa”. So I went up to him and introduced my self as the Winter Santa. He was wearing his park uniform (park polo shirt and beige shorts), but he also had candy cane socks, Santa style baseball cap, full bushy beard (I had mine and my head shaved in the spring to raise money for childhood cancer) and a warm smile. He would talk to the children and give them his 1,000,000 Christmas Wish card (looks like a $1,000,000 bill). A very nice man and great with children." ClausNet: What advice can you give to a first time Santa or Mrs. Claus? Bill: "While portraying Santa, Mrs. Claus or Elves be sincere, look the children in the eye, show interest in what they talk about and most of all HAVE FUN with it. If you are having fun the children will too. You will get more out of it than the children do." ClausNet: Anything else you would like to add? Bill: "Thank you for this great honor. There are many deserving other than myself. Thank you to Michael Rielly and the others that keep ClausNet running." "Also a thank you to the ClausNet members, without you this would not be the terrific site it is. By offering advice without expecting anything in return is so refreshing. Many people don’t want to help out unless they get something in return, be it monitory, something in trade or some physical thing. Offering advice, you know that you are helping someone to bring joy to sooooo many children, what a better return could you ask for. Again thank you for allowing me to be part of this community!" Thank you Bill! Everyone, please join me in congratulating Santa Bill III, our ClausNet Featured Member of the Month for February 2020!
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    Thank you, yes we will need to meet up sometime. When I am able to dive. I hope soon.
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    Thank you Jerry for the kind words. You have also been a great asset to our NORPAC organization!
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    As one of my last acts as Chairman of NORPAC SANTAS, I asked the Executive Board for a Suggested Motion to make a donation to ClausNet from the organization's treasury. The motion was carried by the board by unanimous vote and the donation has been made. I know that ClausNet has been a valuable tool for many of our members in making themselves the best Christmas Performers they can be including myself. Trever Waltos NORPAC SANTAS Chairman
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    Yes he is. Trever has done a great job. He has grown so much during his reign, as has our group under his leadership. NORPAC will have election of officers and board this Saturday. (see post with event details) At the present time there are not many stepping forward, due to a variety of reasons, to take on the group leadership positions.
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    Thank you all! It's a great honor to be included in the company of such great men and women! ❤️ The last time I was at an induction ceremony of the Hall of Fame, it was 10 years ago for my grandfather.
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    HOW Did I not find this until today!?! My boss won't be happy that my productivity will be dwindling for a few days... haha
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    Wild guess, "Santa Who"? never heard of it, but he did appear
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    Please send me your nominations for Featured Member of the Month! Who would you like to see featured? For a complete list that goes all the way back to 2008. check out our Featured Member of the Month Archive!
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    Great news. We just heard from Stephen Gillham of The Brothers Claus and they have met the minimum number of 20 registered to bring their 2 day workshop here to the Seattle area! They can take 15 more if you’re interested. https://www.thebrothersclaus.com/…/seattle-wa-minimum-regis… To Register online May 16 & 17 at the Hampton Inn near Sea-Tac Airport.
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    Congratulations!!!! Excellent interview!!!
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    Christmas at Sea collects, distributes more than 900 gifts Victoria Advocate By Rhonda Cummins January 31, 2020 EXCERPT: Christmas at Sea for the port in Point Comfort was a huge success because of the generosity and dedication of individuals and several groups across the Crossroads. These supporters included a wide range of businesses, schools, organizations and individuals in Victoria, Yorktown, Yoakum, Edna, Bay City, Palacios, Collegeport, Wharton, El Campo, Seadrift, Port Lavaca, Point Comfort, Louise and Lolita. The combined effort resulted in 926 gifts that were delivered during the Christmas season to the invisible seafarers whose work supports the local and global economy as their jobs transport “90% of everything.” SOURCE: https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/features/christmas-at-sea-collects-distributes-more-than-gifts/article_1b9ff728-4111-11ea-9fd1-1fc9f234161e.html
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    it;s the Mens Prayer you must watch Red Green to understand . . . actually - you must just watch Red Green
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    from the Amazing Stories series back in 1985 - Douglas Searle playing Santa - I would be remiss to point out that this gentleman also played Santa in Ernest Saves Christmas - and he got busted and went to jail in both shows !! The original Bad Santa - Mr. Searle also voice the Sultan in the Disney animated feature Aladdin . . .
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    It's sad that this teacher felt that she needed to do this. When I was young, news was 15 minutes long at 5:45 to 6 pm. Now we have 24 news cycles, 3 year old's who know how to turn on computers, children who have access to guns without adult supervision, children who are bullied by both other children and adults, children who are exposed to every type of violence and cruelty, both physical and emotional with no safe place to retreat to. Why must children be denied a safe place to retreat to, even if it's only a fantasy. They will grow up soon enough and as they grow they will be better able to understand and comprehend the world that they live in. As for myself, I will portray Santa as a safety blanket where anyone, child or child at heart may come to and express their hopes, fears and desires without any judgement and to give them at least a small bit of hope for the future. I'm sorry for that teacher and those like her.
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    I have had enough of the chest beating like a gorilla in the wild trying to intimidate their perceived competition. I am posting text from a website. To me, this text is profound. It is what we who portray the legend and spirit of Christmas (Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, or whatever name you choose to give the legend) should embrace every single day. I am fairly certain I know who owns the site. From the text below, you can tell you they do not want to be identified. And that (being unidentified) is the purpose. "The real Santa Claus worked in secret. And he worked to remain anonymous, too. His interest was in giving — not taking. He had nothing to sell. Money was the furthest thing from his mind. Many people have tried to change that over the years. But Santa — the REAL Santa — has not forgotten where he comes from." - Anonymous When you dress as Santa for every day public view and it is not as a contracted/scheduled appearance, you do this for yourself. You may say that you do it for the children, but that is a passive aggressive way to boost your own ego. We are ruining the legend when we do this. Seeing Santa everywhere in every possible location makes him so much less than special. It dilutes the mystery tremendously. And hundreds if not thousands of men are doing it daily with no respect or regard for that legend. Its all about them. And it does nothing more than drive people away from the real reason for the season, too. And He is why we have this celebration. The sacrifice of His Son is also disrespected when we push ourselves on others. The ego in men's hearts and minds is killing the legend. What a shameful lot we have become. I am to the point where I know where Jesus came from when he drove the money changers out of the temple. I feel like I should pick up a stick at get to clearing out the temple myself.
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    Nicholas the Wonder Worker A Look At Our Patron Saint A few weeks ago now a group of Santa Clauses met in a little town in the Smoky Mountains. As they met they took a pledge, a pledge that their brothers from all over the globe join them in taking. One of the lines reads as follows: “I pledge myself to these principals as a descendant of St. Nicholas the gift giver of Myra.” -- The Santa Claus Oath, Phillip Wenz They made a pledge to ideals that should befit every Santa Claus, closing that this pledge was made as a descendant of Saint Nicholas of Myra/Bari. These men have dedicated their lives to uphold the character of a man that truly very little is known about, yet his life has touched the world in a special way. Who was he? Why was he special? How does this one figure remain alive after 1700 years after his natural life has ended? Who is Saint Nicholas? What Did Saint Nicholas Look Like? If you would see him you would never think of the jolly, plump Santa that we all know and love. In contrast, Nicholas was a rather tall and slender man. His beard was more likely cut in the fashion of the times, being cropped close to the jawbone. This is much different than the long, flowing beard of our Santa. Saint Nicholas Icons, Author’s Collection A study performed on the remains of Nicholas in the 1950s by Luigi Martino, the University of Bari, described a man who had a bent back, worn shoulders, and a broken nose. The study also revealed that the Saint had lived on mainly a meatless diet. Nicholas would have been dressed in the clerical vestments of the day, carrying a long shepherd’s staff (crosier). Indeed the picture of Saint Nicholas is far different from that of our beloved Santa. However, the two share the common bond that became the seed of the Santa Legacy – a deeply rooted love and generosity to children of all ages. Left: 2004 Facial Reconstruction, by Anand Kapoor. Right: 2014 Updated Facial Reconstruction What was Saint Nicholas’ Early Life Like? Imagine the small Mediterranean village of Patara, in modern Turkey, between the years of 260-280AD. This was the hometown of Nicholas, who was born to Theophanes and Nonna. By accounts Theophanes was a prosperous merchant, and both he and his wife were very active in the Christian community. They had spent much time in prayer asking for a son. Then came Nicholas (which means the people’s victor) as an answer to that prayer. The stories about him begin at this point. One account says that the baby was standing on his own and talking at the instance of his birth. As Nicholas grew into his early teens we see the picture of a devout young man who fasted every Wednesday and Friday – a practice he continued all his life. It was said of Nicholas that he excelled in his knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and in the daily virtues of the Christian life. He especially held to a strict code of chaste thinking, abstinence, and temperance. He was also said to spend long hours in prayer to his Heavenly Father, sometimes for an entire day and night. This raised the attention of his uncle, who some accounts say was the bishop of Patara at the time. His name was Nicholas as well, and he realized that his nephew had a true calling for the service of God. It was at this point that, with the help of his uncle, he entered the monastery of Sion. He excelled in his ministerial studies, and when Nicholas was ordained, the elder Bishop Nicholas prophesied: “I see, brethren, a new sun rising above the earth and manifesting in himself a gracious consolation for the afflicted. Blessed is the flock that will be worthy to have him as its pastor, because this one will shepherd well the souls of those who have gone astray, will nourish them on the pasturage of piety, and will be a merciful helper in misfortune and tribulation.” As time went on and the old bishop decided to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Lands, he left the care of the congregation to Nicholas. It was said that the future saint took the work very seriously, spending much time in fervent prayer and fasting. His care for the congregation was every bit as strong as that of his uncle. Also around this time came a great tragedy to not only Patara but also to Nicholas. A plague had swept through the town leaving no family untouched. Nicholas was left an orphan. However, Theophanes and Nonna had left a considerable inheritance to their son. Some of the priests admonished Nicholas that he should give it to the Church. But Nicholas had other ideas. He would use it to bless the needy. In his late teens to twenty in age, Nicholas was making his first steps to what he would forever be remembered for – a selfless giver to all. What Are Some Early Stories About Saint Nicholas? One of the earliest stories regarding his generosity actually took place when he was very young. A man in the village was unable to supply dowries for his daughters and was about to sell them out as slaves or prostitutes, as he was unable to give them a future. When Nicholas heard of the need of this very poor father, he came at night when the family was asleep and dropped a bag of gold either through the window or the chimney. Some accounts have this bag of gold actually falling into a stocking. Nevertheless, when the family awoke the next morning they were amazed and happy to find this gift. The father wept and thanked God. When it came time to marry off the man’s second daughter, Nicholas did the same thing. He secretly left another bag of gold in the night, which was received the next morning with great happiness and thanksgiving. Finally, when it came time to marry off the third daughter her father decided to find out who their benefactor was. So, Nicholas came once again in the night and left the bag of gold. This time the father chased Nicholas down and found out the identity of his benefactor. Nicholas made him swear that he would never tell the truth. Do you think that the poor man kept this promise? Nicholas Gives the Dowries, Author’s Collection How Did Nicholas Become a Bishop And What About His Early Miracles? At one point in Nicholas’ early life he went to Alexandria and the Holy Land to study. Upon the return home, the ship that carried Nicholas entered a mighty storm. The ship was tossed, causing a man to fall from the mast to the deck of the ship. He was pronounced dead. Legend has it that Nicholas, in the name of Jesus Christ, calmed the seas and then went to kneel beside the fallen sailor. After a prayer Nicholas told the man to, “Raise in the name of Christ our Lord.” This the man did, and it was this act that caused Nicholas to be revered by seamen unto this day. Upon his return to Myra, Nicholas happened to just walk into the Church and be pronounced the new bishop. Here is how he received this station. While in sleep the night before, one of the priests had a vision from Heaven that the first man to enter the Church the next morning would become the new bishop. To prove this fact the man would be named Nicholas. Having no knowledge of this Nicholas entered for prayer early in the morning. When the priests asked his name, they fell to their knees in thanksgiving. Nicholas was in his early twenties at this time. Bishop Nicholas took his duties very seriously, and brought much good to his flock. It is said that he loved all, especially children and those who were in need or afflicted. He was constant in prayer and led his congregation wholly in the faith. Was Saint Nicholas Ever In Prison? Sadly, Bishop Nicholas lived in a time when the Christian faith was not approved. The Romans did all they could to squelch this new faith and not only caused problems for but also killed many Christians. The Emperor, Diocletian, was the Roman ruler at that time and called for an empire wide persecution of all Christians. Though many died, many others (including Nicholas) were beaten and taken to prison. What happened to him while there we do not know, but one thing is known – Nicholas raised above all the pain that he had to endure and remained forgiving and friendly to his tormentors. Legend has it that while in prison, Bishop Nicholas would make small toys for the children of his guards. This in turn caused some favor with them. Even in the strongest of persecutions, our Nicholas stayed the course for Christ, and with the coming of Emperor Constantine was released after four long years of imprisonment. His back a little more crooked, Nicholas returned to his Church in Myra to much rejoicing from the people. What Were Some of Saint Nicholas’ Biggest Achievements for the Church? By far there are two major acts that Bishop Nicholas performed which must be considered his greatest contribution to the Christian faith besides just his noble character. In fact, both took place not too far away from his home in Myra. You see, during this part of history there was still the influence of idolatry among the people. Too, Christianity was still in its formative years and there were still conflicts to be fought. Not far away in the town of Ephesus there was an altar to the goddess Diana. Nicholas launched a religious crusade to destroy paganism. In so doing Nicholas won many converts to Christ. One account tells of how Nicholas called the false spirits out of the actual shrine and claimed it for Christ. Truly this act of faith should not be forgotten. Another great event took place in 325 AD in the town of Nicea. An ecumenical conclave was held be Emperor Constantine, as the teachings of Arius were to be debated. Was Christ truly divine? That was the question raised by this teaching, which held that Jesus was but a mere man. Upon hearing this, Nicholas went to Arius and struck him in the face. Arius and his supporters appealed to the Emperor that Nicholas be removed from the proceedings. He was jailed. Stripped of his position, many of the bishops and Constantine dreamed that night of Nicholas and were told to release him and restore his position as he was indeed working for the will of God. Legend has it that an angel came down to Nicholas in his cell and delivered a special book to his hands. One account says that it was a book of the Gospels while others contend it was the Book of Life. Nevertheless, Emperor Constantine released Nicholas and restored him to his place in the conclave. It was said of Nicholas by John the Monk, “He was animated like the prophet Elias with zeal from God, putting Arius at the council to shame not only by word but by deed.” In the end, the teachings of Arius were condemned and a new creed was established within Christianity proclaiming the true and full divinity of Christ. Of the 318 leaders that were at this conclave, Nicholas had proven to be the most zealous for the cause. After this Christian triumph he returned to Myra and cared diligently for his flock. Are Their Any More Stories Regarding Saint Nicholas? The stories concerning Nicholas are too numerous to fully write down. Many have become legend. However, there are three that must be remembered which took place during his life. It is said that upon his way to Nicea that Nicholas stopped at an inn for the night. Though the land was in drought and famine, Nicholas was treated to a dinner of roasted meat. This intrigued Nicholas and he went into the kitchen to inquire of the Innkeeper of where this meat had come. As he entered he found that the Innkeeper had actually kidnapped, killed, and dismembered three young children and had placed them in three barrels of brine. It was the thigh of one of these that he had served Nicholas. Nicholas rebuked the Innkeeper and stressed that he should repent before God. He then turned to the barrels and prayed for the children to be made whole through Christ. The three children came out of the water whole and unharmed. The Innkeeper repented and asked for forgiveness. Nicholas forgave him and called for God to do the same. Nicholas Saved the Children, Author’s Collection Nicholas Rescues the Innocent Soldiers, Author’s Collection In another instance, three soldiers had been condemned for a crime that they had not committed. In fact the three had been on the road with Bishop Nicholas at the time. The sentence was death, and when Nicholas heard the news there was little time for a formal pardon from the Emperor. So, off he went to their rescue. He found them on the field of execution with the blade of the headsman raised high above the first soldier’s head. Nicholas ran to the man and stopped the sword between his own hands. Unscathed, he proceeded to tell the officials of his presence with the soldiers at the time of the crime. The three were released. Famine was a reality in the area around Myra. So many stories deal with Bishop Nicholas feeding the hungry. One such legend finds Nicholas doing just that. The people were starving and they called upon the good bishop to help them. Far out on the sea was a ship filled with grain. As the captain slept he began to dream. In his dream he envisioned Nicholas beckoning him to come to Myra where he could sell his grain. This the good captain did and upon the morrow the town was saved from hunger. The captain also received the price he was asking. Some stories tell that when the captain returned to the ship it was miraculously filled with grain once again. When Did Saint Nicholas Die and Where Are His Remains? Nicholas continued doing great works for Christ until he was advanced in years. He had devoted his life to the ministry of Christ, and on December 6, 343, was called home to be with his Lord. His last words came from Psalm 11, “In the Lord I put my trust.” He was laid to rest in great honor within the small cathedral in Myra where he had served so long. He was buried there by much monastic pomp and by a countless crowd of mourners. All grieved for this beloved leader. He remained within his tomb there for nearly seven centuries, until a group of sailors from Bari, Italy, took the remains and carried them back home with them in the 1070s. There are many stories as to why they did this, but it appears that the most plausible was to protect the remains of Nicholas from the raiding Muslims who had just before destroyed many of the Christian sites of the area. He now lays within the Basilica di San Nicola di Bari in Italy. Upon opening the tomb the nostrils of the thieves were met by a very sweet and wonderful fragrance. It was discovered that myrrh, one of the gifts given to Christ at His birth, actually exuded from the remains of Nicholas. This myrrh, called “manna” is said to have many healing properties. Every May there is a festival in Nicholas’ honor. His feast day is honored as well, with the tradition reaching all over the world. Miraculous stories of Nicholas still are carried and his tradition and teachings are well remembered. When Did Nicholas Become a Saint? We really have no date to an official canonization of Saint Nicholas. The official canonization process would not be in effect until the 1000s. But, it is believed that he was called Saint Nicholas as early as the 500s when Justinian I built a church in his honor. Accounts from as far back as the 800s tell of him as Saint Nicholas as well. We definitely have proof that by 1100 he was perhaps the most beloved and powerful of the Saints. More churches and more monasteries were named for Saint Nicholas than for anyone else other than the Holy Family. Knowing this, it was a group of French Nuns that are said to have been the first to begin the practice of giving gifts on December 5, the night before the Saint Nicholas Feast in his name and honor. Each was done in secret, as was the method of the Saint. Statue outside of Saint Nicholas Church In Myra depicts Nicholas “Noel Baba” With children, Author’s Collection From this point on the legend of Saint Nicholas grew and expanded from Turkey to cover the entire world. Vincent A Yzermans wrote, “The evolution of Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus, embodying goodness and love, good cheer and virtue, heartiness and holiness was really not a hard one.” Stories of his generosity and especially his kindness for children, intermixing with various regional influences, have created the modern Santa Claus. As Santa Claus, we have a wonderful line of heritage that truly began in many ways with this man, the Wonder worker of Myra. As we all strive to be the best Clauses that we can be, let us never forget Saint Nicholas, his life, teachings, and example to all who believe in the wonders of childhood. ### Santa John Johnson © 2009 - All rights reserved. Updated: Michel Rielly, 2015 Source: Saint Nicholas: A Closer Look at Christmas by Joe Wheeler & Jim Rosenthal, Nelson Reference and Electronic, 2005 Wonderworker: The True Story of How Saint Nicholas Became Santa Claus by Vincent A. Yzermans, Assisting Christians To Act Publishing 1994 There Really Is A Santa Claus: The History of Saint Nicholas and Christmas Holiday Traditions by William J. Federer, Amerisearch 2003 Santa Claus: A Biography by Gerry Bowler, McClelland and Stewart 2005 Stories Behind The Great Traditions of Christmas by Ace Collins, Zondervan 2003
  39. 1 point
    The German Nussknacker (Nutcracker) is a timeless symbol of the Christmas season. Originating near the Erzebirge regions of Germany, decorative Nutcrackers in the form soldiers, knights, and kings have existed since the late 17th century. A close cousin to the Nutcracker is the Räuchermänner. Commonly known as “Smokers” or “Smoking Men”, Räuchermänner are similar to Nutcrackers in that they are both colorful, carved wooden figures and both originate from Erzegebirge. However, instead of cracking nuts, Räuchermänner are used to burn incense known as Räucherkerzchen. Literally meaning "little smoking candle", a Räucherkerzchen is a small cone of incense burned at Christmas time. The emergence of Räucherkerzen goes back to the use of frankincense in Catholic liturgy. The Räucherkerzchen are made from the resin of the frankincense tree, mixed with charcoal, potato flour, sandalwood and beech paste. The substances are ground and mixed into a moist dough, then shaped into a cone and dried. Räucherkerzchen come in a wide variety of fragrances ranging from traditional Christmas scents like, frankincense, myrrh, cinnamon, and balsam to the more exotic like sandalwood, honey, and others. Unlike Nutcrackers, which tend to represent political, military, or religious figures, Räuchermänner traditionally resemble common folk such as: shepherds, farmers, bakers, carpenters, chimney sweeps, and other tradespeople. Over the years, these figures have evolved into a wide variety of styles. Today Räuchermänner can be found in all sorts of variations, especially Christmas themes such as Santa Claus, Elves, and Snowmen. The Räuchermänner is made up of two pieces that fit together to create one body. The upper part of the body is hollow so that an incense cone can be placed on top of the lower half of the body. When the incense is lit, smoke then billows out of a hole carved in the mouth to resemble a man smoking a pipe. Its nostalgic charm has made the Räuchermänner a Christmas tradition in Germany for hundreds of years. Unlike their Nutcracker cousins, who are often depicted as bearish and grim faced, Räuchermänner seem friendlier; almost jovial. But perhaps what has made the Räuchermänner so popular is that these little wooden figures represent the work of the common man.
  40. 1 point
    Born in 1908, James (Jim) D. Rielly was a lifelong resident of Bristol Rhode Island whose love for his country and his community was immediately evident when you met him. In many ways, he was Bristol’s unofficial Ambassador. To paraphrase Yeats: There were no strangers to Jim Rielly; only friends he had not yet met. Jim Rielly was well known throughout New England for his kindness, generosity, and countless charitable acts. He was featured in the New York Times on multiple occasions and in hundreds of other newspapers throughout the United States. In 1982 he appeared on the television news program, PM Magazine hosted by Sheila Martines and Matt Laurer. In recognition of his efforts, Jim Rielly was the recipient of numerous awards and commendations. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus and an honorary member of the Bristol Rotary Club, which presented him the Paul Harris Fellowship Award. He was a life member of the Bristol Elk Lodge No 1860 and the Cup Defenders Association. He also received awards from the Bristol Jaycees, the Rhode Island House of Representatives, the Leonardo DaVinci Lodge, Sons of Italy, and the Seabees of Davisville. The Coast Guard Cutter Spar honored Jim Rielly for the loving and compassionate time he shared with crew members and their families. He also received awards from the Naval Air Station at Quonset Point, the US Naval Construction Battalion Center, the USS Hammerberg and the USS Essex. In 1989, the Bristol Town Council presented Jim Rielly with the Bristol Citizen of the Year Award. Over the course of his lifetime, Jim Rielly received numerous letters of recognition from celebrities and dignitaries from all over the world including: Eleanor Roosevelt, Senators Theodore Francis Green, Claiborne Pell, and John Chafee, Presidents Dwight D Eisenhower and Richard M Nixon, and even his Holiness, Pope John Paul II. For 10 years Jim Rielly portrayed the character Charlie Weaver, appearing in Bristol’s Fourth of July Parades and at various places throughout Rhode Island. He once received a letter from the real Charlie Weaver, Cliff Arquette, who wrote “Keep up the good work but don’t take any checks”. In 1976, the year of our nation's Bicentennial, the town of Bristol appointed Jim Rielly as official Town Crier. His duties were to call to order the Patriotic Exercises and officially begin the Military and Civic Parade. As Town Crier he participated in all Bristol Fourth of July Parades from 1975 to 1989. He also participated in the official capacity of Town Crier in numerous other community and civic events. But Jim Rielly’s most notable role was that as Rhode Island's own "Santa Claus." His first appearance as Santa Claus was in the beginning of the Great Depression. In 1928 at the age of 19, Jim Rielly appeared as Santa Claus for a family living in an abandoned chicken coup. For more than 60 years, he would visit various orphanages, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, churches, charitable organizations, military bases and the State House. As Santa Claus, he traveled by helicopter, plane, Coast Guard vessel and sleigh to bring joy, laughter and cheer to literally hundreds of thousands of people. Accepting no payment for his appearances, his only fee requirement was that we share the true meaning of Christmas by loving one another. Close to his heart were those occasions when he spent time at the homes with mentally and physically handicapped children. In 1970, the town of Bristol named a street in his honor, Rielly Lane, and in 1975 the town dedicated the James D. Rielly bench at Rockwell Park. In 1979, the United States Senate entered his name into the Congressional Record for his kindness to people as “James D. Rielly, A Truly Remarkable Santa Claus from Rhode Island.” And on December 22, 2010, James D. Rielly was honored posthumously as one of the inaugural inductees into the prestigious International Santa Claus Hall of Fame in Santa Claus, Indiana. Today, at the entrance of Bristol’s Town Hall, hangs an oil painting of Jim Rielly; welcoming visitors to his beloved town as Bristol’s unofficial Ambassador. James D. Rielly died on November 26, 1991 at the age of 83.
  41. 1 point
    The first Santa Claus Convention, held in 1939 in New York City, New York, was a 2 day affair that brought more than a dozen Santas to the Hotel St. George. It was held by the Benevolent Order of Santa Claus, which was founded two years earlier in 1937, to promote a positive image of Santa with guidelines such as clean costumes, personal hygiene, and knowing the reindeer names. The convention was to organize Santas and present to department stores an ever endearing code of conduct and the proper appearance of the profession. The slogan of the convention was “Santa Claus is a living cause.” During the conference portion of the convention discussion, a foundation was laid for the code of conduct that included; Santa will never smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or use any language unbecoming of a saint, be physically and mentally healthy, never break character, incorporate folklore and legend, and use the best available costuming. After the convention, the Benevolent Order of Santa Claus continued for a few more years. In 1942 the Order was dissolved. There would not be another convention until 1950 that was held by the newly organized, Ancient and Mystic Order of Kris Kringles in St. Louis, Missouri. The Ancient and Mystic Order of Kris Kringles was organized in 1949 for the purpose of “Placing Santa Claus on a Higher Plane and to Promote Good Will, Fellowship and the True Christmas Spirit in the Hearts of All People.” Santa Sam Caress, President of AMKK, was very instrumental in laying out a 2 day conference that held seminars taught by Santa Frank Lais of New Orleans, Louisiana and Santa Charles W. Howard of Albion, New York. In the convention’s symposium, 12 important topics were open for discussion. The symposium used “Roberts Rules of Order” and was presided over by Santa Francis A. Kirby of Silver Springs, Maryland. There would be a few more conventions in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Then not another until 1985…but that is another story.
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