Every Christmas Santa gets more than his share of attention. He’s the star of television specials, movies and countless sequels! His picture appears on cards and wrapping paper; he can be found at every mall and downtown department store. Life size plastic Santa's light up our front yards, and the worldwide progress of Santa’s sleigh and reindeer are even tracked on Christmas Eve newscasts!
Why is Santa such a big deal?
Perhaps it’s because we want someone ideal and supernatural to believe in. Someone who is too good to be true, who can show us the way to live and love one another.
For most people, it doesn’t matter that Santa is fiction and fantasy—at least he is an ideal that our kids can believe in, and we can all pretend is real for a few weeks every year.
But what many people don’t know is that the fantasy Santa Claus is based on a real person in history.
There was a man named Nicholas who lived in the Roman Province of Asia (now the country of Turkey) in the fourth century A.D. People called him Saint Nicholas because he lived a devout, Christian life from an early age. It is believed that the name Santa Claus came from the Dutch translation of his name, Sinter Klaas.
Saint Nicholas was a generous man, and was especially noted for a specific act of kindness in giving bags of money to a poor man who had three daughters. The money was used for the daughters’ dowries, so that they could be married.
Saint Nicholas became the Bishop of Myra in that province, and he was persecuted and imprisoned by the despotic Roman Emperor Diocletian due to Nicholas’ fervent devotion to Christ.
But when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, Saint Nicholas was released from prison and continued to live as a zealous, Christian minister the rest of his life.
Saint Nicholas was a real man and was filled with the spirit of joy and giving, because he believed not in a myth but in the divine Savior.
Yes, the fat, happy Santa Claus who wears a red suit and lives at the North Pole with flying reindeer is a fantasy. But the real Saint Nick tells us there is an ideal, genuine and supernatural Man that God Himself gave us, whom we can trust in and look up to every day of the year. Santa Claus did, and so can You!