Thursday, December 6, 2012

St. Nicholas

 Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas. In many European countries including Hungary (my background) today is the day St. Nicholas comes and gives all the good children gifts.
 For us with Hungarian backgrounds we are on the night of December 5th to put our boots in the window and when St. Nicholas passes by and you have been good he leaves a gift (usually some chocolates) and if you have been bad a piece of coal gets left in your boot by Krumpusz. My wife being from Hungary has carried on this tradition and even though our kids are now grown up or close to still look forward to this day.
 Now here is the real story of St. Nicholas. Please enjoy!

The absence of the “hard facts” of history is not necessarily an obstacle to the popularity of saints, as the devotion to St. Nicholas shows. Both the Eastern and Western Churches honor him, and it is claimed that, after the Blessed Virgin, he is the saint most pictured by Christian artists. And yet, historically, we can pinpoint only the fact that Nicholas was the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia, a province of Asia Minor.

   As with many of the saints, however, we are able to capture the relationship which Nicholas had with God through the admiration which Christians have had for him—an admiration expressed in the colorful stories which have been told and retold through the centuries.

   Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters of marriageable age. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man’s window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married. Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint’s feast. In the English-speaking countries, St. Nicholas became, by a twist of the tongue, Santa Claus—further expanding the example of generosity portrayed by this holy bishop.

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