Meet Sanct Herr 'cholas
|Saint Nicholas of Myra|
And this is an icon of Saint Nicholas, known in this country as Santa Claus.
In Europe, he's still Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas - it's only in the U.S. that he's known as Santa Claus. More on this in a moment.
Nicholas was the son of two Bishops of the Catholic Church, born in the 4th Century, who was eventually Sainted by the Church after a lifetime of remarkable charity.
It is from Nicholas's act of dropping gold coins into the stockings of three young girls through the hole in the roof of their shanty through which smoke of the cooking fire escaped, which is where we get "up on the rooftop". The girls had each washed their one pair of socks and had "hung them by the chimney with care" to dry. Nicholas knew that the girls father could not afford doweries for them, and the father - too proud to accept charity -- was putting off the inevitable -- selling them into slavery.
Yes, his parents were two Bishops, obviously one a man and one a woman. This was before the Catholic Church began teaching that women were inherently evil, and that only celibate men could ascend to power within the church.
Please, if that historical fact offends any reader, my apology. But the truth is the truth, and the truth should never be denied.
Saint Nicholas spread to Russia in the 10th Century, then across the far North where among other things, he picked up a team of Reindeer. Eventually, he was celebrated across Europe from where he immigrated to the U.S. with the early English, German, Dutch and other settlers.
Our name for the gentleman, Santa Claus, is a mispronunciation of his name in Pennsylvania Dutch/German, Sanct Herr 'cholas. Or Saint Mister Nicholas.
Enjoy your holidays as will I. We're going to be on a short hiatus until January 6th. Best wishes to all, and to all, a good night.