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“And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
— Isaiah 9:6b

Every Christmas, it seems like Santa Claus gets more and more attention. He’s the star of movies and television specials, his picture appears on cards and wrapping paper, and he can be found at every mall. Life-size plastic Santas 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 Claus such a big deal? Perhaps it’s because we want someone supernatural to believe in, someone who’s too good to be true, someone who’ll show us the way to live and how to love one another.

For most people, it doesn’t matter that Santa is a fantasy—at least he’s an ideal we can look up to for a few weeks every year. But actually, the fantasy Santa Claus is based on a real person.

A Kind Man Named Nicholas

There was a man named Nicholas who lived in present-day Turkey in the fourth Century A.D. He was called Saint Nicholas because he lived a devout Christian life from an early age. It’s believed that the name Santa Claus came from the Dutch translation of his real name, Sinter Klaas. Saint Nicholas was a generous man and was especially noted for a specific act of kindness: giving bags of money to a poor man who had three daughters. This money was used for the daughters’ dowries so they could be married.

Saint Nicholas became the bishop of Myra in Turkey and was persecuted and imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Diocletian for his devotion to Christ. When the Roman Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, Saint Nicholas was released from prison and continued to live as a zealous Christian minister throughout the rest of his life.

Who Did Nicholas Believe In?

Saint Nicholas was a man filled with the spirit of joy and giving because he believed not in a myth, but in the divine Savior. Though the fat, happy Santa Claus who wears a red suit and lives at the North Pole is a fantasy, there’s a real supernatural person you can believe in and depend on every day of the year.

That person is Jesus Christ.

Wayne Taylor is the founding pastor of Calvary Fellowship Seattle, where he was the lead pastor for 41 years. (It’s now called Mountlake Church.) Over time, God used the church to help plant over 50 churches, about half locally and half globally. Recently, Wayne transitioned to the roles of itinerant Bible teacher and support missionary to many global Calvary churches. He is the author of 4 books: “The Civil War Within,” “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ,” “He Dwelt Among Us,” and “Tidings of Great Joy.” Follow Wayne on X (formerly Twitter) @PastorWayTay.