Yes, Santa Claus truly did exist!
The Incredible Story of the Real-life Santa Claus
After Saint Nicholas returned to his home a few years later, he became a Bishop, which of course meant that he would wear the brightly-colored robes and ceremonial hat of a Bishop, and a staff symbolic of his office as a “Good Shepherd” of Christians. He also became known for his generous gift-giving, including a special circumstance in which he gave three bundles of gold to an impoverished widowed father to save his daughters from a life of destitution and dishonor. The amazing story of the real-life Saint Nicholas gave rise to the legendary “Saint Nick” or “Sinterklaas” of German and Dutch tradition, which in turn gave rise to the story of Santa Claus, who like a traditional Bishop, wears ceremonial red clothes and hat, holds a staff, and is a bearded, grandfatherly figure. Some even assert that the legend of Santa Claus coming down the chimney of family homes to give gifts to children began with the real story of the three bundles of gold given to the father by dropping the gift down his chimney!
Saint Nicholas Day Celebrations in Beit Jala
The people of Beit Jala celebrate Saint Nicholas Day on December 19th, with great fanfare. During a church service, people descend to the lower level of the church, where the cave of Saint Nicholas can be entered, and light candles and give oil in thanks to Saint Nicholas, or to ask for his blessing in their lives and on their families. The people of the town participate in a modest festive parade led by their Scout troops, and return home to celebrate with fish dinners, as most are in a time of fasting before Christmas. Christian people throughout the town of Beit Jala are also happy to share stories of miracles that Saint Nicholas, or “Mar Nicola” as he is locally called, have made in their lives.
So this Christmas, as the children in your family, parish or community are busy waiting for Saint Nicholas to come, remember that yes, there is a Santa Claus, and he has a special connection to the Holy Land!
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