Ask that and you’ll get answers as varied as “Of course!” from children and the young at heart, to “Oh, don’t be silly.” from old Scrooges and young “free thinkers.”
There really was a Santa Claus, of course, and we all acknowledge that, even the Scrooges, young and old. Where did it all start, though? This jolly little fat man who rides an airborne sleigh and slips down a sometimes nonexistent chimney started out to be a serious young man born in Turkey.
Either his parents died of the plague when he was young and he went to live in a monastery… or his parents sent him to a monastery because they knew he was “special.”
It’s possible that he became a priest at 17 years old, and that he was imprisoned by the anti – Christian Roman Emperor Diocletian. He could have been released by Emperor Constantine later. He no doubt attended the first council in Nicaea in 325 when the Nicene Creed was established.
He might have given money anonymously by throwing it down the chimney of a suddenly poor family so that the daughters could be married instead of going into prostitution, at a time when no man would marry a woman without a dowry.
A sea may have been miraculously calmed by his prayers.
Is it legend or history that has this Saint throwing gold down chimneys (or through windows)? No one knows for certain. That is to say that there is no written “proof” of any of it and since our modern minds require the written word as proof, Saint Nicolas’ life seems to be mysterious.
Having survived the lack of specifics in ancient writings, the over dramatization in the Age of Romanticism, the Puritan fear of pleasure and the unimaginative treatment by our present jaded spirits, it’s small wonder that the story of the life and faith of Saint Nicholas is relegated to the realm of mythology.
It is no myth. Saint Nicholas was a real person. He was the Bishop of Myra, now Demre, Turkey. He died in 343 AD and was buried there.
Over the years and through the cultures and story telling, this generous and faithful Saint Nicholas become Father Christmas and Papa Noel and Kris Kringle and Santa Claus and more.
Since so many of these (Think: North Pole and flying reindeer!) are obviously made up stories to entertain, titillate and encourage children to be good, the original story of Saint Nicholas is, of course, clouded with the same overtones.