St. Nicholas


            My first Christmas after became a Christ follower, I was adamant about Santa.  I was so upset that the world focused on Santa instead of Jesus this time of year.  I mean that is what the REASON for the SEASON is, right?  So I took every ornament I had and every Christmas decoration with a Santa (even my mom’s) and I threw them away.  I was so determined to not have Santa taking over my Christmas because you do know that Santa spells SATAN if you unscramble the words, right?  I was very idealistic, and before you write me off or click off the page, let me tell you what I have experienced.

            So many of you know that Santa Claus was once a real person – a saint for that matter. He has many names: Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, Noel Baba, Pere Noel, and of course, St. Nicolas.  The real Saint Nicolas lived in Myra (today’s Turkey) in the 3rd century.  He was a bishop who inherited a good sum of money.  He heard that a man’s three daughters did not have dowry to get married so he took it upon himself to bring a bag of money.  Legend has it he threw the bags of money in the windows twice for two of the daughters.   When it came the third daughter’s time, the windows were locked.  Instead, he threw it down the chimney and the money landed in a stocking.  He was so beloved throughout his town and in the church he became a saint.

            By the 12th century, women in France were making little gifts and leaving them on doorsteps for children signing them “from St. Nicholas”.  In America, they introduced Santa Claus in the 19th century as they were looking for traditions.  See, St. Nicholas’s birthday is Dec. 6th and it made sense, to them, to bring him into Christmas. 

            The problem is HE has become Christmas for most people today.  He has taken over the phrase “Believe” - which should refer to our Savior - and has changed St. Nicholas’s incredible story to stockings, chimneys, a belly like jelly, “naughty and nice” list, the North pole, elves and a flying sleigh.  Instead of the nativity scene invoking a sense of awe over the Savior and bringing us to our knees, we focus on “Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house”. 

            The amazing thing is this St. Nicholas was an outspoken troublemaker in the Roman Empire.  And Emperor Diocletian (who was a really mean Caesar) wanted him to stop preaching Christianity.  St. Nick was jailed not once but twice, for spreading the news of Jesus.  His “true life” story is one of suffering, simplicity, generosity and humility.  And the nativity of Jesus is the same kind of story.

            If you would have asked me when I was 25, what we should do with Santa Claus, I would tell you to throw him out.  He should have no part of Christmas, but today I don’t agree.  BECAUSE of Santa Claus, America celebrates Christmas in a BIG way.  If it wasn’t for him, it would be a less than important holiday because the world does not know the Savior.  So I thank God that because of him, we are allowed, given the green light, to talk about Jesus.  And the make-believe story of Santa is good and pleasing and does fit this verse.  Now we are starting to celebrate even in November.  I am even okay with Christmas decoration before Thanksgiving because it gives me a longer time to talk about Jesus freely everywhere.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

            What do we as a family do with Santa?  We have taken on the tradition of St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6th (his birthday).  On the night before, the kids put their boots at under the tree at the front door.  In the morning, I fill them with oranges, chocolate and a present.  When the kids were younger, we got a picture with Santa. That night as part of Advent, we read the St. Nick book. We never wanted to lie about Santa being real so we just didn’t.  The rest of the season we focus on Jesus.  My kids are always amazed that people spend so much time on Santa during Christmas.  I always remind them that we are grateful for Santa because he keeps Christmas going.  Also it is a reminder to us how much people are looking for the Savior.

            The kids have liked the tradition as they get presents twice a month.  On Christmas morning, they do a scavenger hunt to find baby Jesus and put him in the manger.  We open three presents – like the wise men brought to Jesus.  We call them a Want, a Need and a Surprise.  We don’t really bring up Santa again except when we watch a fun movie.

             I am not saying give up Santa if he is entrenched in your celebration.  I am just giving you ideas to ponder.  I am asking you to ask yourself if Jesus has the full limelight in your home at this season. Is he front and center in your celebrating?  I think Satan likes to distract us with a lot of things, and he can use Santa just like anything else. If we are going to seize the season, we have to save Santa from taking over!

What are different ways you celebrate the season?

Won’t you join me this Sunday, Dec. 6th as we celebrate St. Nicholas Day?

~Jeanna Young

When Jeanna is not writing, speaking, event planning, or homeschooling, she can be found scrapbooking her life, redecorating her home, loving on her husband, planning fun events for her kids or eating healthy to stay cancer-free!