VIEW FROM THE PULPIT: Remembering the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra

Dec. 6 is not only the National Day of Action on Violence Against Women, it is the commemoration of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus.

Today (Thursday, Dec. 6), is a special day in the calendar of the church.

It is the commemoration of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra and it is also a special day in the calendar of Canada, being the National Day of Action on Violence Against Women, which commemorates those that died in the tragic Montreal Massacre, when 14 women were killed at a polytechnic institute in Montreal simply because of their gender.

It is interesting that this day should fall on the same day, that we remember the saint who would, many centuries later, be transformed into the red-suited Santa Claus of North American shopping malls, or the Father Christmas of British high street department stores but there is a connection.

To be such a well-known and venerated saint, very little is known about him. Nicholas was the fourth century bishop of Myra, now known as Mugla, and is situated in what is now southwestern Turkey.

There are many legends depicting his kindness, compassion and generosity.

The most famous being his kindness and care for three young women who were about to be sold into slavery as prostitutes by their parents due to their poverty.

The legend tells that Nicholas left three bags of gold on their doorstep for their marriage dowries, saving them from a life of violence and prostitution.

Many other stories are told of him saving people from desperate situations: young boys from violent murder, sailors from storms at sea.

He is the patron saint of Russia as well as children, sailors, unmarried young women, merchants, pawnbrokers, apothecaries and perfumieres, all connected in some way to the legendary events of his life.

In memory of his deed of mercy to the three young girls about to be sold into slavery, the Dutch developed the custom of giving gifts to children on his feast day (Dec. 6).

They brought this custom to America, where the Dutch Protestants of New Amsterdam (New York) united it with Nordic folklore legends of a magician, who would come down the smoke-hole of their medieval huts, punishing naughty children and rewarding good ones with presents.

And so in time, “Sant Nikolaas” was changed into “Santa Claus” and the gift giving moved to Christmas.

The real St. Nicholas died some 1,670 years ago, in the year 342, renowned for his compassion and mercy to all.

So as we remember Nicholas, who abhorred the violence and cruelty of his time, let us also remember to stand against the violence, cruelty and prejudices of our own time.

– The Rev. Simon Shenstone is pastor of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Grand Forks

Just Posted

Residents push Grand Forks council to support with flood buyouts

Staff estimate a $6.6 million difference between pre and post-flood value for Grand Forks buyouts

Boundary District Arts Council folds amid financial questions

The last board took over in November and could not find receipts for $8,000 in spending

BCSS grads come home to celebrate 50 years

*Hairstyles and outfits may have changed since graduation

City clears up purchase history on 70th Ave. timeline

The properties were offered to BC Housing for a supportive housing project in March

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Trudeau says Ottawa open to proposals for B.C. refinery as gas prices soar

Prime minister says he knows B.C. residents are struggling and the federal government is open to ideas

Clock’s ticking to share how you feel about Daylight Saving Time in B.C.

Provincial public survey ends at 4 p.m. on Friday

B.C. First Nation’s group using ads in Texas targeting company for fuel spill

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

BCSS grads come home to celebrate 50 years

*Hairstyles and outfits may have changed since graduation

Most Read