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Most of what we "know" about Nicholas is not from primary sources but rather from later legends that developed about him. These legends have him born already so full of religious devotion that he refused to nurse on fast days. They tell of him working great miracles in life and his bones and relics working even more miracles after his death. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are also stories of his great generosity. The most famous legend is that of his giving three gifts of dowry money by wrapping them up and tossing them through a window to save an impoverished nobleman from selling his three virgin daughters into slavery or prostitution.

In Roman Catholic Europe of the Middle Ages, the veneration of dead saints and the attribution of ongoing miracles to them was not unusual. The veneration of Nicholas did take on a unique tone, however, and by the twelfth century, he had become the most popular Catholic saint other than the Virgin Mary herself.

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In France, nuns would give treats to children in Saint Nicholas' name, and Nicholas himself was pictured as a man with gifts but also with a rod of correction in his hand for children who misbehaved. The Bible tells us that, sometime after Jesus' birth , a group of Magi from the east came to worship Him and honor Him with gifts. The Bible doesn't tell us how many Magi there were, but over time a tradition developed that there were exactly three.

A Biblical Overview of the True Christmas Story (without all the myths and traditions of men)

They further came to be thought of as kings rather than merely Magi or wise men. January 6 was set as the day that these "three kings" arrived in Bethlehem. This was and is celebrated as the holiday of "Epiphany," or in some parts of Europe, "Three Kings Day.

Though distinct from Christmas, this holiday is closely tied to Christmas and the celebration of the two often run together into one long festival of sorts. In fact, this is where the idea of the "twelve days of Christmas" comes into some of our songs and traditions. It is not hard to see the similarities between the Three Kings Day tradition and American children hanging stockings in hopes of treats from Santa.

European folklore is full of regional legends about annual gift givers who reward good children with treats and often punish misbehavior.

Epiphany, the Feast of The Three Kings -- Christmas Customs and Traditions -- whychristmas?com

They are usually portrayed as ragged, wild men, though sometimes witches or even horrifying, beastly creatures are given the role. It is impossible to tell for sure how far back these traditions go or precisely where they come from, but the general idea of a magical gift giver who delivered treats every year and threatened punishment of naughty kids seems to show up in almost every region of Europe in one way or another.

They also leave out their best pair of shoes to be filled with presents.

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On the next day, January 6th children wake up and see how many presents they have received. If they have been good, they will find a lot of good presents but if they have been naughty they will find coal a sweet edible kind of coal in fact, it is just a fun way to tease the kids! Both young and old enjoy opening their presents on this day, but sadly it also marks the end of Christmas.

Santa Claus vs the Three Wise Men

The American version of the Santa Claus figure received its inspiration and its name from the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas a Dutch variant of the name Saint Nicholas. Dutch colonists took this tradition with them to New Amsterdam now New York City in the American colonies in the 17th century. In his History of New York, published in under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, Irving described the arrival of the saint on horseback each Eve of Saint Nicholas.

In the first Nast illustration, Santa was delivering Christmas gifts to soldiers fighting in the Civil War. Utilizamos cookies para brindarte la mejor experiencia en nuestro sitio web.

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