Friday, December 24, 2004

Mad House Santa

I confess my complete lack of knowledge about this most overwhelming of holidays. Unfortunate, but once circumcised my ultimate role on Christmas was decided and will likely forever be “coverage”. Thus today I was called to cover the CCU, AGAIN.

I was proud of myself, though, for taking the time to self educate and relieve some of my ignorance. Here is what I found out about Santa. Thought I’d share:

In Greek, St. Nicholas is known as Hagios Nikolaos, Bishop of Myra (in the present day Turkey),
St Nicholas reportedly died about 350 AD.
Today, this mythical character is still alive and well and is known all over the world as: Nicholas of Myra, Santa Claus or "Santa" in America.

His fame spread rapidly during the Middle Ages and thousands of churches are dedicated to him.

He has been the patron saint of Russia, Moscow, Greece, children, sailors, prisoners, bakers, pawnbrokers, shopkeepers and wolves.

His gift-giving role in Christmas rites probably follows from his fame as the friend of children. The story also tells that he used to give anonymous donations of gold coins to persons in need.

His cult spread in Europe and Christmas presents were distributed on December 6th when the celebration of St. Nicholas took place.

In many countries this day is still the day of Christmas gift-giving, although there is a mounting pressure everywhere to conform to the custom of 24th/25th December.

The relics of St.Nicholas are in the basilica of St. Nicola, in Bari, Italy (they were stolen from Myra in 1087 AD). For this reason he is sometimes known as St.Nicholas of Bari.

In the United States and Canada, his name is Santa Claus.

In China, he is called Shengdan Laoren.

In England, his name is Father Christmas , where he has a longer coat and a longer beard.

In France, he's known as Pere Noel.

In Germany, children get presents from Christindl, the Christ Child.

Customs of the Christmas Season in Spanish speaking countries have many similarities, and many variations. All of Latin America and Spain are predominantly Catholic. For many of these countries Baby Jesus, el Niño Jesus, brings gifts for children.

In Costa Rica, Colombia, and parts of Mexico, the gift bearer is el Niño Jesus, "the infant Jesus."

In Brazil and Peru, he's called Papa Noel.

I even managed to memorize some of that wonderful poem that made old St. Nick the man we know and love today.

Please spend this time with the ones you truly love.

Merry Christmas,
Mad House Madman.