Thursday, December 6, 2007

Yes, Virginia, there is a St. Nicholas

and today, December 6, happens to be the day when people in many places around the world honor him. He looked nothing like the mental image you probably have of his direct descendant, Santa Claus. We have a poem called "A Visit From St. Nicholas" (written in 1823 by either Clement Clark Moore or someone else) and twentieth-century artist Haddon Sundblom's depiction of him for The Coca-Cola Company's Christmas advertising in 1931 to thank for that. (I would include Sundblom's picture of your mental image here, Virginia, except that the aforementioned Coca-Cola Company owns the copyright.)

According to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, the real St. Nicholas was born around 270 A.D. and died on this date in the year 343 in what is now the country of Turkey. He is the patron saint of sailors, fishermen, merchants, archers, children, the falsely accused, pawnbrokers, thieves, and students in Greece, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, the Republic of Macedonia, Slovakia, Serbia, and Montenegro. He is also the patron saint of several cities, among which are Barranquilla in Colombia, Bari in Italy, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, and Beit Jala in the West Bank of Palestine. In 1809, the New York Historical Society convened and named Sancte Claus the patron saint of Nieuw Amsterdam, the Dutch name for New York, so Saint Nicholas could also be considered the patron saint of New York.

As I said a couple of posts back in an entirely different context, start spreadin' the news.

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