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Christmas A to Z

Learn interesting, unusual, unique and useful facts and tips about Christmas and the winter holiday season, in America and around the world.

The (Short) Story Of Saint Nicholas

N

icholas was a real person, born to wealthy parents in the fourth century in Lycia. Lycia, it turns out, was a collaboration of small democratic city-states in southern Turkey and their collaboration is credited with having an impact on the writers of the U.S. Constitution.

Nicholas was, early on, a very religious child and studied to become a priest and then was ordained a bishop. His parents died soon afterwards and left him with a sizable fortune. He used the fortune wisely and usually anonymously as a way to make the lives of others better.

One story that illustrates this concerns a father with three daughters. Dad was so poor that he couldn’t afford a dowry for any of them and was about to sell them into slavery. Nicholas heard of this and one night rode by on his horse and tossed a bag of gold coins in the open window of the family’s home. Rushing out to find out who had done this, all that could be heard was the sound of hooves in the distance. This was repeated for the next two nights until each daughter had her own dowry – and they were married and lived happily ever after. Supposedly the three golden balls outside pawn shops represent the three bags of gold.

Nicholas was eventually found out for this, as well as for other acts of kindness and acquired a reputation as a giver of gifts.

Another story has him calming the waters of the ocean so that an endangered storm-tossed ship could travel safely to port. Mariners everywhere would come to think of Nicholas as their patron because of that.

He died on December 6 and was buried in his own church.

Written by Dianne Weller
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