When you walk through Northridge Mall or Valencia Town Center and see the line up of people ready to capture an image with Santa, do you ever wonder how a Bishop from the Mediterranean town of Patara became the jolly old elf we call Santa Claus? At this time of year all things Santa are deeply entrenched in our culture. He's mysterious and magical and colorful. Between gift giving and a constant sense of joy, Santa embodies what many people aspire to be as Christmas approaches. His full story, not just Clement Moore's famous poem "Twas the Night before Christmas", but the whole thing is worth a look.
Did you know the man we call Santa started as a boy named Nicholas? He became a priest, then a bishop. Throughout the world stories are told of miracles he may have done or people he might have saved. The legend grew and grew until many corners of the earth celebrate an element connected to him.
In his book, "The True St. Nicholas: Why he matters to Chrsitmas", Bill Bennett researched the many stories and legends and traced the beginnings of the Santa we know today.
In my family, our main focus is Jesus birth but any attempt to escape Santa brings us back to a famous cola commercial. When my girls ask about him I direct their attention to St. Nicholas and in simplistic terms tell them that he loved God so much that he spend his life sharing about Jesus and giving to others. Learning the many twists and turns cultures took in embracing this well known figure only helps me to communicate better with them.
If you prefer to lay out cookies and sprinkle glitter to keep the image of Santa Claus alive in your family, this book will still give you a deeper connection to why people became attracted to that idea in the first place.