The Saint.

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The real story of Santa Claus.

To understand the story untherneath first you haved to know that in the Netherlands we have a celebration we called "sinterklaasavond" (=Sinterklaas-evening). Sinterklaas or St. Nicolaas (saint Nicolas) is dressed like a bishop in red. He brings presents with his partner "zwarte Piet" (black Pete) on a white horse.

Nicolas of Mira

More than 16 centuries ago lived this greeksspeaking Turk. He was the Patron of sealors or beauties who want to be married. Sometimes confused with Nicolaas Pidara (+564), Nicolaas I, bishop of Rome from the nineteenth century or with Niclaas from Tolentino, who died in 1305.

For 50 years Ninos Laos (Nicolaas when he became a priest) was bishop of Myra. He was probable the sun of Euphenios and Anna. Young eaged he inherit great richness of his parents and he gived a lot away. As a very devoted child he became his education by his uncle Methodios, bishop of Myra, wich he follow up.
We know the month and day of dead; december 6. But the year of dead is not for shure. It could be 342, 343, 345 of 351. For 7 cenruries his body stayed in a sarcofaag in Myra (yet Demre).
By the de islam persecute there were a lot of Christians driven from Little Asia. Many saddled in South - ItaliŽ and Bari at the Adriatische Sea was the middle.
To get the bones again in christian hands the inhabitants of Bari dicidet in the year 1087 to get the relics. It succeed and the body was put to rest in a new church.
Pope Urbanus II determined that on may 9 (when the ship with the relics came to Bari) and on december 6 (day of death) the celebration of Nicolaas of Myra had to be celebrated.

In 1955 the grave was found of Nicolaas in Demre (Myra). With the graverobbery of 1087 there were left some little bones behind. These rests (a piece upperarm and a foot) lay yet in a litte reliekbox in the museum of Antalya. On the lit of the box there is the eldest picture of this saint; he had a ringbeard and a moustage and in his lefthand he had a book.

The pelgrims who come nowadays to Bari to the celebration of st. Nicolaas with processions on may 7, 8 en 9 have not the same idea about this saint as we have.
They see in him the patron of sealors and fishermans and protector of happines in marriagelife. In East Europe (f.e. Russia) this saint is named for his goodness. Sometimes also by the Islamits. And in de country around the Netherlands f.e. Denmark and France on decembre 6 there were apples and nuts hand out. ( Old Germans use) A knight of Lotharingen, called Richer , had on his way back of his crusade in 1089, taken a fingerbone from the gravetombe te Bari. The harbor Saint Nicolas du Port grew out till a place of pelgrimage. On "Sinterklaasavond" (=Sinterklaas-evening) still there is procession to the glory of this saint. In France, Germany, Vlaanderen and in the Netherlands stayed till the 18e century the habit of a chosen childbishop. In Swiss there is the noisy "Klšusjagen" with elements of german fertility-rituals. Our "Sinterklaas" is driving on a white horse just like Wodan. (=german god)

The englisch protestant queen Elizabeth (1558 - 1603) abolished the saint Nicolas uses just as ather catholic uses. After the reformation there was a try in Germany the celebration of the good saint get into christmas what suceedded in the northen part. In the Netherlands was tried to forbit the celebration. On the "Waddeneilanden" (islands in the north of the Netherlands) there were at least till 1900 and sometimes even till now on strange Nicolas ("Sunderums" or "Sundeklaas") celebrations. The dutch emigrants who build New York (New Amsterdam) took the "Sinterklaas" celebration along the ather side of the Ocean. The name of the holy bishop changed from Saint Nicolas to Santa Claus and become a guy with a red suit who came from the north with a reindeersledge at the time of christmas who brings presants with sweet songs.

In early days there was a thought that st. Nicolaas came from Spain. Maybe that thought came through the stories of the sailors who came from the Middelandse Sea and came around Spain to Holland.
Also Bari was (lest resting place of saint Nicolas) for a long time spanish property. And because spanisch nobles had often Morisco servants became the idea saint Nicolas, Spain en "Zwarte Piet". ("Moriaantje zwart als roet"=a dutch saint nicolassong about black Pete/"Moriaantje"/little Morisco black as soot).
There is however an explanation for the name of the black servant; st. Nicolaas had in his life bought free an Etheopic slave with the name "Piter" (Pete).

From the 13the century the "st. Nicolaas"celebrations came in West Europe.; monks or teathers dressed themeselves as Nicolas and led them accompany by a (devils) servant with the name "Zwarte Piet, Pieterman of Pietje Pek" (Back Pete). Sometimes Nicolaas became a devil by himselve; An german name for the devil is Niklo and in England has Satan still the name of Old Nick. The sack on the back of "Zwarte Piet" (Black Pete) comes probably from the idea in the Middle centuries that the devil took souls on his back to hell.

We don't have to make it the child's to difficult to tell them that Santa Claus is not coming from Spain and let them sing the song " Zie ginds komt de stoomboot uit Spanje weer aan" (=See the steamschip is caming from Spain again) with full confiction. (This is from Jan Schenkman / ca. 1830)

to a "celebrated man" of Hans Krooger

C.Niesten dec.1997

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