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Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus - Accademia cittadella Nicolaiana

Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus

Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus

The deeds, popularity and prestige of St. Nicholas have allowed the birth of the legend of Santa Claus. Perhaps not everyone knows that “our” Santa Claus originates from two anecdotes from the life of St. Nicholas:

– The first anecdote is “Saint Nicholas and the Rescue of Three Innocents from Beheading”.

The term “innocent” that characterizes the anecdote has undergone a major transformation over the centuries. For the church and Christian culture “innocent” is synonymous with children. The three men saved by St. Nicholas become voice in voice “innocent children”. Saint Nicholas takes on the role of protector of the innocent in the collective imagination.

– The second anecdote is “St. Nicholas and the dowry to the three girls.”

Throughout the West, St. Nicholas was known for the gold coins thrown at night, from the window, to the three girls, to allow their marriage.

This gesture of help, of great symbolic value, has become extremely popular over the centuries.

The night-time throw of the coins helped to create the myth of Santa Claus, which distributes gifts.

The mixture of the two anecdotes, characterized by the misunderstanding of the term “innocent” and a tangible nocturnal gift, led to the birth of the legend of Santa Claus.

The first documents, found in present-day Alsace, tells us of gifts to poor children, on the occasion of the festivities of 5 and 6 December. The spread of the saint, during Protestantism, has not had an easy life. Tangible and documented is the commitment of both the Catholic Church in curbing disorders and excesses that characterized the festivities of St. Nicholas and the Protestant countries that opposed the saint. For example, Holland, which passed specific laws.

Despite this, the literary production, over the centuries, on Santa Claus is extraordinary, shows the great interest in the saint in this declination oriented to help the poor and innocent. This interest has determined his great popularity today.

The evolutions of the last century, a consequence of the use of the figure of Santa Claus by major commercial brands, have given the final push to the “legend” of Santa Claus.

The change of dress, previously characterized by original elements in all shades, in shades of red and white, demonstrates this age-old and original evolution.

May Saint Nicholas be present in all our homes, ready to donate to all the children of the world, like Santa Claus.