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From Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus 5
By Caroline Pinet

  1. 270

    From birth to bishophood

    "Nikolaos of Myra was born in Patara, Licya (today’s Turkey), in a rich family. He was ordained priest by his uncle Nicholas, bishop of Myra (today’s Derme). In 300, when his uncle died, Nicholas became his successor as a bishop."

  2. 310

    Wealth distribution to the poor

    "Following the persecution of christians, Nicholas was arrested and tortured. Later, he distributes to the poor the wealth he inherited. This story is considered as an historical fact, as it was reported by two bishops in the 4th century, Ambrose of Milan and Basil of Cesarea."

  3. 325

    The Council of Nicaea

    "Nicholas participates to the Council of Nicaea, opposing partisans of Arianism and those of Trinity. Staunch opponent to Arianism, Nicholas slaps Arius, a fervent partisan of the idea. This will lead to his arrest, before being reintroduced in the Council later."

  4. 345

    Death of Nicholas

    "Nicholas dies in 345 and it is told that during his life, he was benevolent and generous, being the protector of children, widows and the poor."

  5. 6th century

    The beginning of the cult of Saint Nicholas

    "The cult of Nicholas begins in the eastern world. In Russia, his cult is introduced by the brothers Cyril and Methodius, coming from Constantinople to evangelize Slavic countries. As his cult becomes greater within the Orthodox Church, he becomes the Patron saint of Russia."

  6. 11th century

    The cult goes west

    "Nicholas’ bones were in Myra until 1087. After the Byzantine army’s defeat, Italian cities under Nicholas’ patronage decided to bring back his relics. One of the sailors stole a phalanx and brought it to Lorraine, where he was from. Nicholas thus became protector of the region."

  7. 12th century

    Patron of the children

    "Many miracles were attributed early to Nicholas and became soon one of the most popular Saints among Christians, being the patron of children. Stories say that Nicholas goes in each house in the night of the 5th December to ask if children have been obedient and gives them gifts."

  8. 13th century

    The evil butcher story

    "Saint Bonaventure told the most famous story of Nicholas, saying 3 childre n asked hospitality to a butcher, who cut them in pieces and put them in a salting tub. 7 years later, Nicholas asked for that salting tub and resurrected the children."

  9. 16th century

    The Sinterklaas celebration in the Netherlands

    "After the protestant reform, the cult of saints is abolished in Europe, except in a few countries like the Netherlands, where people continued to celebrate Sinterklaas in Amsterdam in the night of the 5th December."

  10. 17th century

    From Sinterklass to Santa Claus

    "As the Dutch migrated, they brought the Sinterklaas celebration to the United States, where non-Dutch speakers mispronounced it as ’Santa Claus’. Later on, the Church decided it was more appropriated to celebrate children with the birth of the Christ on the 24th December."

  11. 1823

    A Visit from St Nicholas

    "Theology professor Clement Clark Moore wrote in 1823 ’A Visit from St. Nicholas’ for his children. He is the one who contributed to forge the modern legend of Sinterklaas in its American version."

  12. 1931

    Coca Cola popularised Santa Claus

    "Coca Cola ordered an illustration of Santa Claus to Haddon Sundblom, for $1,000. This one was inspired by Clement Clark Moore and its ’image of a warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human Santa’. Contrary to popular belief, Santa Claus was represented in red before Sundblom did."

  13. 21st century

    Saint Nicholas celebrations today

    "While Santa Claus is celebrated in most of the world, some countries like Belgium, Netherlands, Swiss, Austria, Luxemburg, Slovakia, parts of France and Germany, still celebrate Saint Nicholas on 6th December."

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