Peter Enns of Patheos wrote an article with some interesting – yet, often overlooked – facts about Saint Nicholas.
Contained on a card he got from his place of worship:
Nicholas was born in the 3rd century in Asia Minor. He used his entire inheritance to help the poor, sick, and children in need. He gave in secret, expecting nothing in return. He attended the Council of Nicea in AD 325. Greatly loved for his faith, compassion and care, he is venerated in both East and West.
Nicholas saved young women from slavery, protected sailors, spared innocents from excecution, provided grain in a famine and rescued a kidnaped boy.
Saint Nicholas didn’t just secretly give the needy what he could in a quasi-illegal overnight mission. He used the entirety of his inheritance and being to help those who needed it. Not just those who weren’t going to receive presents from family members, but he helped slaves, orphans and the sick – with everything he had.
The “Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick” we have created as a symbol of our holiday – which has also become a striking symbol of our greed – is far from being the helpful, holiday elf. As Enns says:
Nicholas was a beast. Mother Teresa, Oskar Schindler, and Samuel L. Jackson all rolled into one. What an absolute crushing beast.
I would have to agree.
Of course, for myself, I have children small enough to still be into the whole idea of the Rockwellian Santa Claus. I’m not going to ruin that just yet. However, just as soon as it becomes clear that my children are both done with the holiday illusion, I’m gonna be teaching them about the real Saint Nicholas.
For what it’s worth.