San Nicolò di Bari – The Original Santa Claus

Dec 14, 2018 514

It seems the month of December is the time of gift giving regardless of your religious affiliation or nationality. This is especially true in the United States, where the image of Santa Claus is emblazoned everywhere since late November. Other countries have their own version of a benevolent older gentleman who gives out gifts in December, usually known as Father Christmas. Whatever you call him, be it Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, or even Santa Claus, this kind, gift-giving figure has its roots in a real man, the original Saint Nicholas – known in Italy as San Nicolò di Bari.

You may ask what this Christian saint has to do with Italy, but the Adriatic port city of Bari is in fact the final resting place of Saint Nicholas (San Nicolò). Long before San Nicolò’s image was transformed into the American Santa Claus, he was venerated as the patron saint of children, merchants and sailors, among other things. Much of saint Nicolò’s life is legendary, but there is enough evidence to prove that such a man existed. 

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