Santa Claus



There was a real person referred to as St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas is referred to as Santa Claus. How did the name Saint Nicholas get translated into the name Santa Claus? Santa Claus means Holy Claus. The word "santo" is "holy" in Latin as well as its descendent tongues, such as Spanish and Italian. Claus is an abbreviation for Nicholas. There you have it; Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus. The name Santa Claus is also derived from the Dutch Sinterklaas, which is a modification of Sint Nikolaas.

Saint Nicholas was alleged to have lived between 304 and 345 AD. I say alleged because, the accounts of his life are confused and historically unconfirmed. Funk and Wagnall's has the following information about him:

According to tradition he was a native of Patara, formerly a city in the ancient district of Lycia, Asia Minor (in what is now Turkey). He entered the nearby monastery of Sion and subsequently became archbishop of the metropolitan church in Myra, Lycia. He is said to have been present at the first Council of Nicaea. At the end of the 11th century some Italian merchants transported his remains from Myra to Bari, Italy, where his tomb is now a shrine. Nicholas is the patron saint of children, scholars, virgins, sailors, and merchants, and in the Middle Ages he was regarded by thieves as their patron saint as well. Legend tells of his surreptitious gifts to the three daughters of a poor man, who, unable to give them dowries, was about to abandon them to a life of sin. From this tale has grown the custom of secret giving on the Eve of St. Nicholas. Because of the close proximity of dates, Christmas and St. Nicholas's Day are now celebrated simultaneously in many countries. Santa Claus, the designation for t he jolly, bearded figure of folklore who is credited with bringing gifts to children on Christmas Eve, is an American corruption of the Dutch San Nicolaas. His feast day is December 6.

How this translated to his living on the North Pole, his having eternal life, shimmying down chimneys, passing out toys, and the rest of it is a mystery to me.