- 270-346 AD
- Nikolaos of Myra, part of modern-day Turkey.
- Thaumaturge: Νικόλαος ὁ Θαυματουργός, Nikolaos ho Thaumaturgos
- Latin: Sanctus Nicolaus
- Dutch: Sinterklaas, derived from "Saint Nikolaos," turned into "Santa Claus" in English.
- A beautifully-scented liquid seeps from his tomb and is known as "the Manna of St. Nicholas."
- Gave gifts secretly to people in need, especially providing dowries so that three poor girls could get married.
Prayer to St. Nicholas of Myra
O Saint Nicholas,
bountiful Father and special Patron of the Byzantine Catholic Church,
you are a shepherd and teacher to all who invoke your protection,
and, by devout prayer, call upon you for aid.
Hasten and save the flock of Christ from ravenous wolves;
and by your holy prayers protect all Christians and save them
from worldly disturbances, earthquakes, attacks from abroad,
from internal strife,
from famine, flood, fire, sword, and sudden death.
As you had mercy on those three men in prison
and saved them from the king's wrath,
so now also have mercy on me
who by word, deed, and thought have sunk into the darkness of sin.
Save me from the just anger of God,
and from eternal punishment.
Through your intercession and aid,
as well as through His own mercy and grace,
may Christ, our God, allow me to lead a tranquil and sinless life,
and save me from standing at His left
and deem me worthy to stand at His right with all the saints.
The "Santa Claus" tradition
"A story need not be true to be true." The truth told by the good Santa Claus stories is that there is someone watching over all children with love. It is not an elf living at the North Pole, but the parents, family members, patron saints, angels, and God Himself who lavish children with gifts. There is a period of magical thinking that all healthy children experience. The Santa Claus stories can help fill their imaginations with wonder and gratitude.
- Every December, an envelope from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R. Tolkien's children. Inside would be a letter in strange, spidery handwriting and a beautiful color drawing. The letters told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how all the reindeer scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas's house; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with a troublesome horde of goblins. Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, adding yet more humor to the stories. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness of Tolkien's Father Christmas Letters.