Everywhere during the Christmas season we see images, references, and hear songs about “Old Saint Nick”, or Santa, as he is commonly known. Was he real? How did he become a part of our Christmas celebration?
Today’s Santa is mostly mythical, a jolly old man who flies over the whole earth on Christmas night handing out toys (in some countries coal for naughty children). Saint Nicholas was, however, a real follower of Jesus in the third century. Becoming known for generosity to those in need and love for children his stories became associated with Christmas, partly because St. Nicholas’ feast day, December 6th, falls in the Advent season.
But do the ideas of Santa today tell the story of the gospel?
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The old fashioned tradition of leaving out shoes and stockings to be filled by a Santa who has kept accounts of all the deeds of the year meant that children who were poorly behaved received the booby prize of coal, twigs, or old potatoes.
God does keep accounts of all our deeds and words, but the good news of the the gospel is that Jesus came to take our “lists” of sin and wrongdoings to be nailed on his cross. That is why the Angels rejoiced, and the Shepherds came to worship: they heard that the Savior had finally come to bring release to the captives of sin and shame.
Learn all sorts of things about Santa… or Saint Nicholas, as he is properly known, here.