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The Legend of Santa Claus

There are many old tales and legends about the generosity of St. Nicholas. One of the most popular of these stories being that he gave three sisters a dowry so that they could be married instead of being sold into slavery by their father.

Most historians agree that the legend of Santa Claus actually began life as a real person, a Christian monk living in Turkey. This monk, named Nicholas, is believed to have been born in about 280 AD. St. Nicholas was known throughout the area for his kindness to children, protection of sailors, and generosity. There are many old tales and legends about the generosity of St. Nicholas. One of the most popular of these stories being that he gave three sisters a dowry so that they could be married instead of being sold into slavery by their father. It is stories like these that helped give rise to the legend of Santa Claus.

As Christianity slowly but surely displaced the pagan religions of Europe, old holidays and festivals were given religious slants. Even though most historians would agree that if Jesus were a real person, he was probably born in the springtime, people began celebrating Christmas during the winter solstice, when old celebrations like the Roman festival Saturnalia would be taking place. It is from Saturnalia where we get the tradition of giving gifts. Given that a Catholic saint, St. Nicholas, famous for his generosity, had his feast day so close to Christmas time (December 6) it is hardly a wonder that the two days became intertwined over the years as two cultures meshed together. Even after the Protestant reformation, when the peoples of Protestant countries began shunning the celebration of the saints, celebrating St. Nicholas remained as popular as ever.