(Fictional account based on the historical figure Saint Nicholas and biblical scripture)
It’s December. Parents around the world shop and stress. What willI you say if you hear the dreaded question: “Mommy, is Santa Claus real?” You can confidently answer, “Of course he is. Did you ever hear the story of How Santa Claus Got His Magic?”
It all started long ago, with a young orphaned boy from the village of Patara in Asia Minor. His name was Nicholas and he loved God so much he wanted to live by His Word…
Matthew 6:3-4, King James Version
“But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”
Young Nicholas adjusted the belt on his priestly robe, shifting uncomfortably under its heavy crimson folds, and leaned on staff. It was almost dusk—too soon to stop if he wanted to reach his village, Patara, by nightfall. As the newly appointed Bishop of Myra (a miraculous appointment indeed!) he had to do something—a neighbor was about to commit a horrible sin.
People were beginning to wonder. Why had the bishops of the See of Myra appointed Nicholas of Patara to fill the vacant seat? The inexperienced monk had never even served as a deacon or priest. But no one dared argue against the wisest bishop, who claimed the Lord Himself gave him a vision in the night and the name “Nicholas” as answer to their prayers.
Nicholas was beginning to wonder too. He kneeled to pray; a custom his uncle, the abbott, taught him after both his mother and father died of the plague. He learned as a child to depend on God, in spite of his great wealth. Oh, how he’d wished he could trade his inheritance for just one more day with his parents in those days. Nicholas fidgeted on his calloused knees. The air cooled. He waited for the Lord’s answer to his dilemma…
“Oh, Lord. What shall be done for my poor neighbor the nobleman and his three daughters? For it has come to me that with no dowry and no way to sustain themselves, he intends to sell the maids into lechery. Perhaps I could give something to aid their circumstance? I have enough gold coins for one, perhaps two of the daughters. Then I can live off the rest.”
The answer came to him in scripture.
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” (Matthew 15:21, King James Version)
Nicholas considered his response. Not wanting to turn away sorrowful, like the rich young ruler, he gave his entire inheritance to help the poor.He was determined to do it in secret too—in strict adherence to scripture. Despite his best intentions to remain anonymous, the nobleman found him out. His grateful neighbor married off his daughters and spread the word of Nicholas’ generosity—gold coins placed in the stockings at night! Mysterious packages of fruits, nuts and sweets left out for poor children! But, Nicholas never took the credit.
It was the first of many generous acts, especially towards children, and his growing faith for the miraculous. Since then, Nicholas had called upon “his treasure in heaven” through prayer many times: the multiplication of wheat during famine, rescuing innocent men from death, even raising the dead. True to his Word, the Lord had never failed him. People were even calling him, Nicholas the Wonderworker.
Bishop Nicholas cinched the belt around the folds of his weighty crimson robe, and picked up his staff. After twenty five years in the service of the Lord, it was as familiar as his own skin, as was the persecution that came along with the mantle. As he left his cell, he blessed the Lord, thankful that Emperor Constantine had ended the brutal treatment of Christians. Now, by the order of the Emperor, he was off to face his most daunting task yet—The Council of Nicaea. He prayed.
“Lord Jesus, your Church is troubled with confusion. There are those who say you are not equal to God, the Father. They say there is no Holy Trinity.”
The Lord’s answer came again in scripture.
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33, King James Version)
Nicholas rose from his knees. He knew what he must do.
History records the presence of Bishop Nicholas of Myra at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD (he is listed among the attendees on the oldest Greek documents), where he defended the Gospel and the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Despite, being exiled and imprisoned for his faith, Bishop Nicholas never denied Christ. Even before his death on December 6, 343 AD, the beloved gift-giver was honored as a strong role model of the Christian faith—a saint. Inspired by the exploits of Saint Nick, parents began the tradition of giving gifts to children (in secret of course) and Christians began the custom of giving alms to the poor on December 6.
Over 1600 years later, this spirit of generosity lives on across the globe throughout the entire month of December, and it all began with a young monk who obeyed Christ—he gave in secret and God rewarded him openly. How did Santa Claus (a Dutch pronunciation of Saint Nicholas /Sinterklaas) get his magic? He lived by Jesus’ words…
Acts 20:35, King James Version
“…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
- The Saint Nicholas Center. “Who Is Saint Nicholas?” St. Nicholas Center. Web. Date accessed 18 Dec. 2014. <http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/>.
- “What occurred at the Council of Nicea?” Got Questions Ministries, n.d. Web. Date accessed 18 Dec. 2014. Read more: <http://www.gotquestions.org/council-of-Nicea.html>.