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  1. Legendary Santa Claus

    Raymond Joseph "Jim" Yellig

    Raymond Joseph "Jim" Yellig Santa Claus, IN February 18, 1894 - July 23, 1984 One of the most beloved and legendary Santas of all time, Raymond Joseph Yellig (better known to his friends as Jim), was known as the Real Santa from Santa Claus, Indiana. Born in the small village of Mariah Hill, Indiana, just a few miles north of Santa Claus, Yellig would become the face of Santa Claus, Indiana, for 54 years. He served in the United States Navy prior to and in World War I. While aboard the U.S.S. New York in 1914, Yellig started the career for which he would become world-famous. While docked in Brooklyn, New York, the crew of the ship decided that they would like to do something nice for the underprivileged children of the area. A Christmas party was planned and since Jim was from the Santa Claus area, he was selected to be the jolly old elf. Yellig was so touched by the children’s happiness that he prayed, “If you get me through this war, Lord, I will forever be Santa Claus.” Yellig stayed in the Navy after World War I for a short time, serving over 17 years. After leaving the service, Yellig married his childhood sweetheart, settled in Chicago briefly, and worked for Commonwealth Edison. He returned to Mariah Hill in 1930 to open a restaurant. During this time Yellig would drive the short distance over to Santa Claus and talk with his old friend, postmaster James Martin. Over the years, Martin had begun answering the letters of children addressed to Santa Claus; he soon enlisted Jim's help. In 1935 Yellig organized the Santa Claus American Legion Post to act as Santa's helpers. He also started to dress the part of Santa Claus and became a fixture in and around the town of Santa Claus. Yellig appeared at Santa's Candy Castle and Santa Claus Town, the nation's first themed attraction, in the late 1930s and continued to answer letters from children who wrote to Santa. As an active Legionnaire, Yellig added to his fame by appearing in American Legion Christmas parades in New York City, Miami, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. In 1946, Yellig became the resident Santa at Santa Claus Land, the world’s first theme park. At Santa Claus Land, Yellig was the main attraction. He was in costume over 300 days a year and his deep voice and hearty "Ho, Ho, Ho," is remembered fondly by all who met him. He wrote his own book in the late 1940s called, "It’s Fun to be A Real Santa Claus." Yellig also appeared on numerous radio and television programs, from "What's My Line" to "Good Morning America," and in many print ads. Yellig spent 38 years at Santa Claus Land. Even into his late 80s, Yellig would drive over to Santa Claus Land from his home in Mariah Hill to spend four to five days a week visiting and greeting children of all ages. Even in the months prior to his passing at the age of 90 on July 23, 1984, Yellig was still Santa at the park and continued to answer letters from children. Without a doubt, no Santa before or since has visited so many children in person as Jim Yellig. To many a generation he is simply Santa Claus. Source Phillip L. Wenz See also... Santa Claus Museum Holiday World Town of Santa Claus, IN Santa Claus Oath Map of Santa Claus, IN
  2. The promise of Christmas: Why we still celebrate the birth of Jesus 2,000 years after it happened By Dr. David Jeremiah | Fox News December 25, 2018 Why do we still celebrate the birth of Jesus 2,000 years later? Let’s take it one step further: Why has humanity held out this event as supremely important for even thousands of years before that? Before you assume I’ve simply forgotten what year it is, in order to understand what I mean we must understand just how long the road history, and all of creation for that matter, has journeyed to get us to this point in the first place. LINK: https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/the-promise-of-christmas-why-we-still-celebrate-the-birth-of-jesus-2000-years-after-it-happened
  3. Lets take a look at Summer Santa/Christmas in July Where does it really stem from? Who came up with idea an made it happen? How to improve it and evolve it? Looking forward to eveeryones input!
  4. On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789, a national day of Thanksgiving. In it, Washington called upon all Americans to express their gratitude for a happy conclusion to the nation's war of independence and the successful ratification of the United States Constitution. Especially this year, as we prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, we should reflect on the full meaning of the day. Let’s strive to be truly thankful in our hearts this Thanksgiving. What better way to enter the holiday season? By the PRESIDENT of the UNITED STATES of America, A PROCLAMATION. Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. Go. Washington
  5. Weihnachtsmann

    Santa good list book frame angel shadow.png

    Santa making his List:-)
  6. DALLAS - After nearly three decades, Children's Health has confirmed to WFAA that it will no longer host its annual holiday parade. "We have decided to move forward with other new and meaningful ways to bring cheer to families in our community this holiday season," hospital spokesman Scott Summerall said on Tuesday. "We are considering ways to celebrate and honor the parade’s history in its 30th year, but still ironing out details of a potential event." Summerall says Children's Health will still host other holiday events, like its annual Holiday Tree Lighting at its Dallas and Plano campuses, Breakfast with Santa, and its Holiday Patient Party. "These events are beloved by our patients, families and team members, and are an important component of fulfilling our mission to make life better for children," he said. Last December the Children's Health Holiday Parade was canceled for the second time in almost 30 years due to inclement weather. Summerall tells WFAA that because of this, it made organizers reassess hosting the parade since it's such a massive undertaking. Director of HTE Dance, Jeffrey Giles, says he and former parade director Cassie Collins have filed a permit with the City of Dallas to host the parade, and will be reaching out to sponsors soon. © 2017 WFAA-TV SOURCE
  7. Michael Rielly

    Brief History of Räuchermänner

    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.
  8. Michael Rielly

    The Christmas Pickle Mystery

    For many, decorating the Christmas Tree with a pickle ornament is a beloved holiday tradition; however the origin of the Christmas Pickle remains somewhat of a mystery. Details vary, but the most common explanation is that the Christmas Pickle or Die Weihnachtsgurke is a centuries old German tradition where the last decoration hung on the Christmas Tree was an ornamental pickle; hidden deep within the branches of the Tannenbaum. And the first person to find the briny bauble on Christmas morning would receive an extra gift from St. Nicholas or be blesses with good fortune the coming year. The Bronner's CHRISTmas Wonderland website offers several varieties of Pickle ornaments and includes this explanation of the legend: “According to German tradition, the pickle brings good luck. After all the other ornaments were hung on the tree, the pickle ornament was hidden somewhere within the branches. On Christmas morning, the first child to find the gherkin was rewarded with an additional small present left by St. Nicholas." Unfortunately, there are a couple of holes in the story. Firstly, in Germany, Saint Nicholas arrives not on Christmas Day, but rather on the day of his feast, December 6, Saint Nicholas Day (Sankt Nikolaus Tag). Second, in Germany, gifts are usually opened on Christmas Eve (Heiliger Abend), not Christmas Day morning. Of course there is also the fact that most Germans have never heard of the tradition; and those that have, believe it to be an American tradition. So if most Germans have never heard of this tradition, then how did it get started? There are at least two Christmas pickle ornament stories floating in the Internet brine of speculation. The first story takes place during the American Civil War. As the story goes, Bavarian-born soldier, Private John Lower (Hans Lauer) of the 103rd Pennsylvania Infantry was captured in Georgia by the Confederate Army and taken prisoner. On Christmas Eve, Private Lower, starving and in poor health, begged the prison guard for just one pickle. The guard took pity on Lower and granted his request. The pickle gave Lower the strength to live on. Once reunited with his family, Lower began a tradition of hanging a pickle on the Christmas tree every Christmas Eve. The second story, recounts a tale of two boys trapped in a pickle barrel. There are several variations of the pickle barrel story; however, they mostly center around two Spanish schoolboys who are kidnapped by an evil innkeeper and placed into a pickle barrel. That evening, Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra (St. Nicholas) arrives and rescues the children. It’s probably no coincidence that this story sounds very similar to the legend of St. Nicholas and the three children in a barrel. As the story goes, a malicious butcher lures three children into his shop where he kills them and places their remains in a barrel of brine to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Nicholas finds the children and resurrects them through prayer. This legend accounts for St. Nicholas as the patron saint of children and barrel makers and why the saint is often depicted in statues and paintings alongside three children in a barrel. Despite evidence showing that the Christmas Pickle tradition likely did not originate in Germany, there is however a connection to Deutschland. Both Christmas trees and Christmas ornaments originate from Germany. The small mountain village of Lauscha is considered to be the birthplace of the glass-blown Christmas ornament. In 1847, Hans Greiner began producing the first glass ornaments in the shapes of fruits and nuts. Soon after, the glass blowers of Lauscha were manufacturing ornaments in other shapes such as hearts, stars, and angels. By the 1870s, Christmas ornaments were being exported throughout Europe. But it wasn’t until the 1880s that glass ornaments became a regular fixture on Christmas trees in the United States. In 1880, a traveling salesman called on 28-year old Frank W. Woolworth at his store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The salesman wanted to sell German glass ornaments to people for decorating their homes at Christmas. Woolworth was unconvinced of their appeal. He felt that Americans would not waste money on them because they didn't 'do' anything. Reluctantly, Woolworth purchased one case of 144 ornaments, but insisted on sale-or-return terms. Much to his surprise the ornaments sold out in one day, generating a profit of $4.32. The following year Woolworth doubled his order and sold out again. It seemed Americans loved the idea of decorating their Christmas trees with these unique glass ornaments. Regardless of its origins, the tradition of the Christmas Pickle survives and adds a layer of whimsy to the joy and merriment of the holiday season. And for many, no Christmas Tree is complete without it.
  9. Michael Rielly

    The Story of Good King Wenceslas

    As traditional Christmas carols go, the song Good King Wenceslas is unusual in a number of ways. The song has been used throughout popular culture in countless Christmas related films and television programs. Yet the lyrics make no reference to Christmas. In fact, the song has no connection to Christmas whatsoever. The story told in the carol actually takes place the day after Christmas on December 26, the Feast of St. Stephen. Written in 1853 by the Rev. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), the lyrics to Good King Wenceslas were inspired by the life history of Wenceslaus I (907–935). Wenceslas (also known as “Václav the Good”) was the Duke of Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) from 921 until his assassination in 935. Following his death, Wenceslaus was canonized as a saint due to his martyr's death, as well as several purported miracles that occurred after his death. Revered for his kindness to the poor, Wenceslaus is the patron saint of the Czech people and the Czech Republic. Good King Wenceslas tells the story of a King and his page on a journey as they brave the harsh winter weather. One night on the Feast Day of St. Stephen, they observe a poor man collecting wood. Wenceslaus asks his page to find out where the poor man lives and to gather meat, drink, and firewood so that they can bring it to the poor man's home. During the journey, the page is about to give up the struggle against the cold weather. Wenceslaus tells his page to follow in his footsteps. Miraculously, as the servant steps into the king’s footprints, he feels the warmth of the king’s generosity emanating in the snow and is able to go on. Although there is no mention of Christmas in this traditional Christmas carol, its message of kindness, generosity, and giving to those less fortunate than ourselves, is what makes it so fitting. May we always strive to emulate the Good King's example; not only on Christmas, but every day. Good King Wenceslas By Rev. John Mason Neale, 1853 Good King Wenceslas looked out On the feast of Stephen When the snow lay round about Deep and crisp and even Brightly shone the moon that night Though the frost was cruel When a poor man came in sight Gath'ring winter fuel "Hither, page, and stand by me If thou know'st it, telling Yonder peasant, who is he? Where and what his dwelling?" "Sire, he lives a good league hence Underneath the mountain Right against the forest fence By Saint Agnes' fountain." "Bring me flesh and bring me wine Bring me pine logs hither Thou and I will see him dine When we bear him thither." Page and monarch forth they went Forth they went together Through the rude wind's wild lament And the bitter weather "Sire, the night is darker now And the wind blows stronger Fails my heart, I know not how, I can go no longer." "Mark my footsteps, my good page Tread thou in them boldly Thou shalt find the winter's rage Freeze thy blood less coldly." In his master's steps he trod Where the snow lay dinted Heat was in the very sod Which the Saint had printed Therefore, Christian men, be sure Wealth or rank possessing Ye who now will bless the poor Shall yourselves find blessing.
  10. Name: Christmas Trees Category: Christmas History and Traditions Date Added: 2016-04-22 Submitter: Michael Rielly Historians say evergreens are the ancient link between paganism and Christmas. We say they miss the point entirely in this eye-opening chapter in the history of Christmas. Christmas Trees
  11. Michael Rielly

    Christmas Trees

    Historians say evergreens are the ancient link between paganism and Christmas. We say they miss the point entirely in this eye-opening chapter in the history of Christmas.
  12. Michael Rielly

    James D. "Jimmy" Rielly

    James D. "Jimmy" Rielly Bristol, RI May 1, 1908 – November 26, 1991 If you ever have the opportunity to visit the beautiful coastal town of Bristol Rhode Island, you may see a few references to one of its most notable citizens – James D. “Jimmy” Rielly. On the east side of town there is a street named Rielly Lane. In Rockwell Park, located on Bristol Harbor there is an unassuming park bench with an engraving that reads: Jim Rielly’s Bench. And at the entrance of the Bristol Town Hall, hangs an oil painting of Jim Rielly as Bristol’s Official Town Crier, appearing to welcome each of its visitors. Born in 1908, Jim Rielly was a lifelong Bristolian whose kindness 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 Rhode Island and much of New England for his generosity and countless charitable acts; but most notably, Jim Rielly was known as Rhode Island’s most famous 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 was Santa Claus for a family living in an abandoned chicken coup. From that day forward he would continue for the next 62 years bringing joy to children of all ages. Jim Rielly appeared as Santa Claus wherever he was needed but primarily at charitable organizations, nursing homes, hospitals, orphanages, military bases, and private homes. He took no payment for any of his appearances. Jim Rielly 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 generosity and community involvement, he was the recipient of countless awards and commendations from civic and community leaders. Over the course of his lifetime, Jim Rielly received letters of recognition from celebrities and dignitaries from all over the world including: First Lady 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. On January 31, 1979 he was entered into the United States Senate Congressional Record as "James D. Rielly – A truly remarkable Santa Claus from Rhode Island” and on December 22, 2010, he was one of the inaugural inductees into the prestigious International Santa Claus Hall of Fame. James D. Rielly died on November 26, 1991 at the age of 83. See also... Town of Bristol, RI Map of Bristol, RI Santa Claus Oath Santa Claus, IN International Santa Claus Hall of Fame James D Rielly Foundation
  13. Michael Rielly

    Auld Lang Syne

    Every New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight, millions around the world traditionally gather together to sing the same song, “Auld Lang Syne”. As revilers mumble though the song’s versus, it often brings many of them to tears – regardless of the fact that most don’t know or even understand the lyrics. Confusion over the song’s lyrics is almost as much of a tradition as the song itself. Of course that rarely stops anyone from joining in. Despite its association with New Years, “Auld Lang Syne” was never intended to be a holiday song. First published in 1787 by Scottish Poet Robert Burns, the song is about remembering friends from the past and not letting them be forgotten. The title, “Auld Lang Syne”, literally translates to “Old Long Since” – meaning “time gone by” or “old time’s sake”. The lyrics "We'll take a cup o' kindness yet" essentially means to raise a glass in a toast to good will, friendship, and kindness towards others. The custom of drinking to one’s health or prosperity at a special gathering dates back hundreds of years. Auld Lang Syne Robert Burns Original Scots Lyrics Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne? CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my jo, for auld lang syne, we’lltak' a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne. And surely ye’ll be your pint-stoup! and surely I’ll be mine! And we’ll tak' a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne. We twa hae run about the braes, and pou’d the gowans fine; But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit, sin' auld lang syne. CHORUS We twa hae paidl’d in the burn, frae morning sun till dine; But seas between us braid hae roar’d sin' auld lang syne. CHORUS And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! and gie's a hand o’ thine! And we’ll tak' a right gude-willie waught, for auld lang syne. CHORUS   Auld Lang Syne English Translation Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne? CHORUS: For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne. And surely you’ll buy your pint cup! and surely I’ll buy mine! And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne. We two have run about the slopes, and picked the daisies fine; But we’ve wandered many a weary foot, since auld lang syne. CHORUS We two have paddled in the stream, from morning sun till dine; But seas between us broad have roared since auld lang syne. CHORUS And there’s a hand my trusty friend! And give me a hand o’ thine! And we’ll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne. Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians Although the song was already popular in Canada and the United States by the early 19th Century, Canadian-born musician, Guy Lombardo (1912-1977) is often credited with the popularization of Auld Lang Syne. Lombardo first heard "Auld Lang Syne" growing up in London, Ontario, where it was often sung by Scottish immigrants. When he formed his orchestra, Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians, the song became one of their standards. But it wasn’t until 1929 that “Auld Lang Syne” became a New Year’s Eve tradition. During a live radio broadcast on New Year’s Eve at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, Guy Lombardo chose the song as a transition between two radio shows. The first half of their New Year’s Eve performance was broadcasted on CBS. The second half of the performance, beginning at midnight, was broadcasted on NBC. At the stroke of midnight, the orchestra played “Auld Lang Syne” as a segue from one show to the next – and a tradition was born. In a 1976 New York Times interview, Lombardo recalls the decision to play Auld Lang Syne at midnight: “We knew we were going to use ‘Auld Lang Syne’ as a theme, because Robert Burns wrote it.” “So we decided to use it on that New Year’s Eve program, too. It seemed appropriate, and we were familiar with ‘Auld Lang Syne’ from Canada, where we grew up. As kids, we lived in a big Scottish settlement — London, Ontario — and they always closed an evening by playing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ before the traditional ‘God Save the King.'” Auld Lang Syne - Guy Lombardo And His Royal Canadians (1947) Christmas Auld Lang Syne In 1960, pop singer Bobby Darin put his own spin on the classic tune. Officially titled, “Christmas Auld Lang Syne”, Darin’s version of the song was released as a single in October 1960. On December 13, 1960 Darin performed "Christmas Auld Lang Syne" on ABC’s American Bandstand. The next week, the song entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 Chart. Christmas Auld Lang Syne Lyrics When mistletoe and tinsel glow Paint a yuletide valentine Back home I go to those I know For a Christmas auld lang syne. And as we gather 'round the tree Our voices all combine In sweet accord to thank the Lord For a Christmas auld lang syne. When sleigh bells ring and choirs sing And the children's faces shine With each new toy we share their joy With a Christmas auld lang syne. We sing His praise this day of days And pray next year this time We'll all be near to share the cheer Of a Christmas auld lang syne. In sweet accord we thank the Lord For a Christmas auld lang syne. Christmas Auld Lang Syne - Bobby Darin (1960) Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life is my favorite movie of all time. And even though I have watched this film literally hundreds of times, it is the end scene that always gets me. When Harry Bailey toasts his brother George and the crowd breaks into "Auld Lang Syne", it always brings me to tears. What makes “Auld Lang Syne” so powerful is it has nothing to do with a new year and everything to do the importance of relationships. With its themes of friendship, reconciliation, and nostalgia, “Auld Lang Syne” reminds us that whatever changes life may bring, old friends should never be forgotten.
  14. Michael Rielly

    The Three Kings

    The Three Kings by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1858 Three Kings came riding from far away, Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar; Three Wise Men out of the East were they, And they travelled by night and they slept by day, For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful star. The star was so beautiful, large and clear, That all the other stars of the sky Became a white mist in the atmosphere, And by this they knew that the coming was near Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy. Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows, Three caskets of gold with golden keys; Their robes were of crimson silk with rows Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows, Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees. And so the Three Kings rode into the West, Through the dusk of the night, over hill and dell, And sometimes they nodded with beard on breast, And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest, With the people they met at some wayside well. “Of the child that is born,” said Baltasar, “Good people, I pray you, tell us the news; For we in the East have seen his star, And have ridden fast, and have ridden far, To find and worship the King of the Jews.” And the people answered, “You ask in vain; We know of no King but Herod the Great!” They thought the Wise Men were men insane, As they spurred their horses across the plain, Like riders in haste, who cannot wait. And when they came to Jerusalem, Herod the Great, who had heard this thing, Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them; And said, “Go down unto Bethlehem, And bring me tidings of this new king.” So they rode away; and the star stood still, The only one in the grey of morn; Yes, it stopped—it stood still of its own free will, Right over Bethlehem on the hill, The city of David, where Christ was born. And the Three Kings rode through the gate and the guard, Through the silent street, till their horses turned And neighed as they entered the great inn-yard; But the windows were closed, and the doors were barred, And only a light in the stable burned. And cradled there in the scented hay, In the air made sweet by the breath of kine, The little child in the manger lay, The child, that would be king one day Of a kingdom not human, but divine. His mother Mary of Nazareth Sat watching beside his place of rest, Watching the even flow of his breath, For the joy of life and the terror of death Were mingled together in her breast. They laid their offerings at his feet: The gold was their tribute to a King, The frankincense, with its odor sweet, Was for the Priest, the Paraclete, The myrrh for the body’s burying. And the mother wondered and bowed her head, And sat as still as a statue of stone, Her heart was troubled yet comforted, Remembering what the Angel had said Of an endless reign and of David’s throne. Then the Kings rode out of the city gate, With a clatter of hoofs in proud array; But they went not back to Herod the Great, For they knew his malice and feared his hate, And returned to their homes by another way.
  15. Name: Jimmy Durante Plays Santa Claus Category: Christmas History and Traditions Date Added: 2016-03-03 Submitter: Michael Rielly Jimmy Durante Plays Santa Claus at Christmas 1961 Jimmy Durante Plays Santa Claus
  16. Jimmy Durante Plays Santa Claus at Christmas 1961
  17. Michael Rielly

    Bah! Humbug!

    Most are familiar with the phrase “Bah! Humbug!” made famous by the miserly character Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens: “A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach. “Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!” He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy and handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again. “Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure.” “I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.” “Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.” Scrooge having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said, “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug.” Many people mistake Scrooge’s use of the term “humbug” as an expression of his disgust or displeasure towards Christmas. But the word actually has a different meaning and provides a key understanding into Scrooge’s actual feeling towards Christmas. The word “humbug” dates back to the mid-1700s, long before Dickens penned A Christmas Carol in 1843. There are many theories on its exact origin, but they all point back to a meaning of deception. According to the Online Entomology Dictionary Etymonline, “humbug” was often used to describe fraud or hoax. humbug (n.) 1751, student slang, "trick, jest, hoax, imposition, deception," of unknown origin. Also appearing as a verb at the same time, "deceive by false pretext" (trans.). A vogue word of the early 1750s; its origin was a subject of much whimsical speculation even then. "[A]s with other and more recent words of similar introduction, the facts as to its origin appear to have been lost, even before the word became common enough to excite attention" [OED]. Meaning "spirit of deception or imposition; hollowness, sham" is from 1825. Christmas joy made no sense to Scrooge. As far as he was concerned, the poor had no reason to be happy. So when Scrooge exclaims, “Bah! Humbug!” he is pointing out what he believes to be hypocrisy. Scrooge believed that those who speak of the love and charity of the Christmas season are pretentious and insincere in their beliefs, deceiving themselves and others. For Scrooge, Christmas was a true “humbug”; a time for fake joy and celebration with no real substance or purpose. A Christmas Carol is not the only literary use of the term “humbug” by Dickens. The word can be found in The Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, and other novels. In L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), the word is used often. In the book, the Wizard describes himself as just "a humbug." “No, you are all wrong,” said the little man meekly. “I have been making believe.” “Making believe!” cried Dorothy. “Are you not a Great Wizard?” “Hush, my dear,” he said. “Don’t speak so loud, or you will be overheard–and I should be ruined. I’m supposed to be a Great Wizard.” “And aren’t you?” she asked. “Not a bit of it, my dear; I’m just a common man.” “You’re more than that,” said the Scarecrow, in a grieved tone; “you’re a humbug.” “Exactly so!” declared the little man, rubbing his hands together as if it pleased him. “I am a humbug.” Perhaps the best example of “humbuggery” is the celebrated showman and entertainer, Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum. Barnum proudly described himself as the "Prince of Humbugs”. Barnum was a master of humbug, a point he makes in his book Humbugs of the World (1866): "[A]s generally understood, 'humbug' consists in putting on glittering appearances -- outside show -- novel expedients, by which to suddenly arrest public attention, and attract the public eye and ear". Barnum always maintained that his customers were not “suckers” but rather willing participants in his lighthearted pranks and hoaxes. “The people like to be humbugged”, he once said. So the next time you wish someone a "Merry Christmas" and some Scrooge replies with: “Bah! Humbug!” just smile and say: Christmas is no hoax!
  18. More info about travel to Europe: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe From England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps, Rick Steves' European Christmas gets you a seat at the family feast; saves you a pew up in the lofts with the finest choirs; and hands you a rolling pin in grandma's kitchen as she labors over her best-kept holiday secrets. You'll join Romans cooking up female eels, Parisians slurping oysters, Tuscans tossing fruit cakes, and Norwegian kids winning marzipan pigs. Exploring the rich and fascinating mix of traditions — Christian, pagan, commercial, and edible — you'll see Christmas in a new light.
  19. Name: Rick Steves European Christmas Category: Christmas History and Traditions Date Added: 2016-02-01 Submitter: Michael Rielly More info about travel to Europe: https://www.ricksteves.com/europe From England to Norway, Burgundy to Bavaria, and Rome to the top of the Swiss Alps, Rick Steves' European Christmas gets you a seat at the family feast; saves you a pew up in the lofts with the finest choirs; and hands you a rolling pin in grandma's kitchen as she labors over her best-kept holiday secrets. You'll join Romans cooking up female eels, Parisians slurping oysters, Tuscans tossing fruit cakes, and Norwegian kids winning marzipan pigs. Exploring the rich and fascinating mix of traditions — Christian, pagan, commercial, and edible — you'll see Christmas in a new light. Rick Steves European Christmas
  20. Michael Rielly

    The Children’s Friend

    Published by William B. Gilley in 1821, “The Children’s Friend. Number III. A New-Year’s Present to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve”, is believed to be the first book published in America to include lithographic illustrations. This book includes a poem about “Santeclaus” along with eight colored illustrations. However, what makes this book significant is the poem and illustrations are thought to be the earliest known visual representation of Santa Claus in a sleigh pulled by reindeer. The poem also marks Santa’s first appearance on Christmas Day rather than December 6, the feast day of St. Nicholas. The Children’s Friend. Number III. A New-Year’s Present to the Little Ones from Five to Twelve by William B. Gilley, 1821 Old Santeclaus with much delight His reindeer drives this frosty night. O’er chimney tops, and tracks of snow, To bring his yearly gifts to you. The steady friend of virtuous youth, The friend of duty, and of truth, Each Christmas eve he joys to come Where love and peace have made their home” Through many houses he has been, And various beds and stockings seen, Some, white as snow, and neatly mended, Others, that seem’d for pigs intended. Where e’er I found good girls or boys, That hated quarrels, strife and noise, Left an apple, or a tart, Or wooden gun, or painted cart; To some I gave a pretty doll, To some a peg-top, or a ball; No crackers, cannons, squibs, or rockets, To blow their eyes up, or their pockets. No drums to stun their Mother’s ear, Nor swords to make their sisters fear; But pretty books to store their mind With knowledge of each various kind. But where I found the children naughty, In manners rude, in temper haughty, Thankless to parents, liars, swearers, Boxers, or cheats, or base tale-bearers, I left a long, black, birchen rod, Such as the dread command of God Directs a Parent’s hand to use When virtue’s path his sons refuse
  21. Legendary Santa Claus

    Santa Claus Convention History

    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.
  22. Michael Rielly

    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

    You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen; Comet and Cupid and Donder and Blitzen. But do you recall how the most famous reindeer of all came to be? Surprisingly, many are unaware of the fact that the character of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer actually began as a story book from Montgomery Ward. While working for Montgomery Ward, copywriter Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939 as an assignment for the company. May penned the story of Rudolph in the style of the poem by Clement Clarke Moore, A Visit From St. Nicholas (T’was The Night Before Christmas). Over 2.4 million copies of Rudolph's story were distributed by Montgomery Ward in its first year. Sadly, because May created the story of Rudolph as an employee, he did not own the license. However in 1946, in one of the most generous decisions ever made by the head of a large company, Montgomery Ward Chairman Stewell Avery, gave all rights back to Robert May. A year later the mass-market release of the book made the Montgomery Ward copywriter a rich man. Learn more about the Creation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Here is the original poem by Robert L. May: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer By Robert L. May ‘Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hills The reindeer were playing, enjoying their spills. While every so often they’d stop to call names At one little deer not allowed in their games. “Ha ha! Look at Rudolph! His nose is a sight! It’s red as a beet! Twice as big! Twice as bright! While Rudolph just cried. What else could he do? He knew that the things they were saying were true! Where most reindeer’s noses are brownish and tiny, Poo Rudolph’s was red, very large, and quite shiny. In daylight it sparkled (The picture shows that!) At nighttime it glowed, like the eyes of a cat. Although he was lonesome, he always was good- Obeying his parents, as good reindeer should! That’s why, on this day, Rudolph almost felt playful. He hoped that from Santa, soon driving his sleighful Of presents and candy and dollies and toys For good little animals, good girls and boys, He’d just get as much (and this is what pleased him) As the happier, handsomer reindeer who teased him. So as night, and a fog, hid the world like a hood, He went to bed hopeful; he knew he’d been good! While way up North, on this same foggy night, Old Santa was packing his sleight for its flight. “This fog,” he called out, “will be hard to get through!” He shook his round head. And his tummy shook, too! “Without any stars or a moon as our compass, This extra-dark night is quite likely to swamp us. To keep from a smash-up, we’ll have to fly slow. To see where we’re going, we’ll have to fly low. We’ll steer by the street lamps and houses tonight, In order to finish before it gets light. Just think how the boys’ and girls’ hopes would be shaken If we didn’t reach ‘em before they awaken!” “Come, Dasher! Come, Dancer! Come, Prancer and Vixen! Come, Comet! Come Cupid, Donder and Blitzen! Be quick with you suppers! Get hitched in a hurry! You, too, will find fog a delay and a worry!” And Santa was right, as he usually is. The fog was as thick as a soda’s white fizz. He tangled in treetops again and again, And barely missed hitting a huge, speeding plane. Just not-getting-lost needed all Santa’s skill – With street signs and numbers more difficult still. He still made good speed, with much twisting and turning, As long as the streetlamps and house lights were burning. At each house, first checking what people might live there, He’d quickly pick out the right presents to give there. “But lights will be out after midnight”, he said. “For even most parents have then gone to bed.” Because it might wake them, a match was denied him. Oh my, how he wished for just one star to guide him. Through dark streets and houses old Santa did poorly. He now picked the presents more slowly, less surely. He really was worried! For what would he do, If folks started waking before he was through? The night was still foggy, and not at all clear. When Santa arrived at the home of the deer. Onto the roof, with the clouds all around it, He searched for the chimney, and finally found it. The room he came done in was blacker than ink, He went for a chair, but it turned out a sink! The first reindeer bedroom was so very black, He tripped on the rug, and burst open his pack. So dark that he had to move close to the bed, And peek very hard at the sleeping deer’s head, Before he could choose the right kind of toy – A doll for a girl, or a train for a boy. But all this took time, and filled Santa with gloom, While feeling his way toward the next reindeer’s room. The door he’d just opened – when, to his surprise, A soft-glowing red-colored light met his eyes. The lamp wasn’t burning; the light came instead, From something that lay at the head of the bed. And there lay – but wait now-what would you suppose? The glowing, you’ve guessed it, was Rudolph’s red nose! So this room was easy! This one little light, Let Santa pick quickly the gifts that were right. How happy he was, till he went out the door, The rest of the house was as black as before! He went back to Rudolph and started to shake him, Of course very gently, in order to wake him. And Rudolph could hardly believe his own eyes! You just can imagine his joy and surprise At seeing who stood there, a paw’s length away, And told of the darkness and fog and delay, And Santa’s great worry that children might awaken Before his complete Christmas trip had been taken. “And you,” he told Rudolph, “may yet save the day! Your bright shining nose, son, can show us the way. I need you, young fellow, to help me tonight, To lead all my deer on the rest of our flight.” And Rudolph broke out into such a big grin, It almost connected his ears and his chin! He scribbled a note to his folks in a hurry. “I’ve gone to help Santa,” he wrote. “Do not worry.” Said Santa, “Meet me and my sleigh on the lawn. You’d stick in the chimney.” And flash he was gone. So Rudolph pranced out through the door, very gay. And took his proud place at the head of the sleigh. The rest of the night…well, what would you guess? Old Santa’s idea was brilliant success. And “brilliant” was almost no word for the way That Rudolph directed the deer and the sleigh. In spite of the fog, the flew quickly, and low, And made such good use of the wonderful glow That shone out from Rudolph at each intersection That not even once did they lose their direction! At all of the houses and streets with a sign on ‘em. The sleigh flew real low, so Rudolph could shine on ‘em. To tell who lived where, and just what to give whom, They’d stop by each window and peek in the room. Old Santa knew always which children were good, And minded their parents, and ate as they should. So Santa would pick out the gift that was right, With Rudolph close by, making enough light. It all went so fast that before it was day, The very last present was given away. The very last stocking was filled to the top, Just as the sun was preparing to pop! The sun woke up the reindeer in Rudolph’s hometown. They found the short message that he’d written down. Then gathered outside to await his return. And were they surprised and excited to learn The Rudolph, the ugliest deer of the all, Rudolph the Re-Nosed, bashful and small, The funny-faced fellow they always called names, And practically never allowed in their games, Was now to be envied by all, far and near. For no greater honor can come to a deer Than riding with Santa and guiding his sleigh. The Number One job, on the Number One day! The sleigh, and its reindeer, soon came in to view. And Rudolph still led them, as downward they flew. Oh my, was he proud as they came to a landing Right where his handsomer playmates were standing. The same deer who used to do nothing but tease him Would now have done anything, only to please him. They felt even sorrier they had been bad When Santa said, “Rudolph, I never have had A deer quite so brave or so brilliant as you At fighting black fog, and at steering me through. By you last night’s journey was actually bossed. Without you, I’m certain, we’d all have been lost! I hope you’ll continue to keep us from grief, On future dark trips, as Commander-In-Chief!” While Rudolph just blushed, from his head to his toes, Till all of his fur was as red as his nose! The crowd clapped their paws and then started to screech, “Hurray for our Rudolph!” and “We want a speech!” But Rudolph, still bashful, despite being a hero, Was tired, His sleep on the trip totaled zero. So that’s why his speech was quite short, and not bright, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” And that’s why-whenever it’s foggy and gray, It’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed who guides Santa’s sleigh. Be listening, this Christmas, but don’t make a peep, ‘Cause that late at night children should be asleep! The very first sound that you’ll hear on the roof That is, if there’s fog, will be Rudolph’s small hoof. And soon after that, if you’re still as a mouse, You may hear a “swish” as he flies ‘round the house, And shines enough light to give Santa a view Of you and your room. And when they’re all through, You may hear them call, as they drive out of sight, “Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
  23. Legendary Santa Claus

    Charles W. Howard

    Charles W. Howard Albion, NY June 15, 1896 - May 1, 1966 Charles W. Howard was truly an American Original. Howard's professional Santa career is that of legend. He was born in the house that he would live in his entire life. The small town boy never left Albion, New York, except to venture out to be Santa. Howard first played Santa as a boy in a classroom play. As an adult he found himself asked to help a friend out and play Santa in a store front window in downtown Albion. This experience helped Howard's urge to perfect the role of Santa Claus as much as he could. In his early career Howard caught the train next to his farm in Albion and commuted to Rochester, New York and then Buffalo, New York to be Santa in department stores. It was about this time he started to develop the idea for a "school" for Santas. Howard's first school was in the fall of 1937. Howard also appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1948 through 1965. Oddly, he never worked as Santa in the New York City flagship store. From 1948-1964, Howard flew from New York City to Kansas City, Missouri to be the Santa at the Macy's store there. In 1965, his last Christmas season, Howard worked at Nieman Marcus in Dallas, Texas. In the late 1940's, Howard started to convert the three barns behind his house in to what became "Christmas Park." This small amusement park became known all over the Northeastern United States. The park included the classroom and dressing rooms for the Santa Claus School. Before using this facility, Howard taught his school in his living room of his house. (With some exceptions, Howard's three session school held in Santa Claus, Indiana in 1938 and the schools held at the St. George Hotel in NYC after WWII.) Student from all over came to Albion. Stores like J.L. Hudson's in Detroit, Gimbel's in Philadelphia, Foley's in Houston, and Dillard's in Little Rock all sent students and executives to the school. Howard was even asked to go to Australia in 1965 to teach a special school there. Appearances on television, in magazines and newspapers included: What's my Line, To Tell the Truth, The Tonight Show, Life Magazine, and The Saturday Evening Post. He was also hired as a consultant for Miracle on 34th Street. The contributions of Howard's work are embedded in the Santa Claus world today. One of Howard's most memorable quotes sums it up... "To say there is no Santa Claus is the most erroneous statement in the world. Santa Claus is a thought that is passed from generation to generation. After time this thought takes on a human form. Maybe if all children and adults understand the symbolism of this thought we can actually attain Peace on Earth and good will to men everywhere." Charles W. Howard passed away on May 1, 1966 at the age of 69. Source Phillip L. Wenz See also... The International Santa Claus Hall of Fame The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School The Official Charles W Howard Website Santa Claus Oath Map of Albion, NY
  24. 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
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