Advent Devotional for Thursday, December 6

Christmas Character: Saint Nicholas of Myra

Suggested readings: Wikipedia and

The Autobiography of Santa Claus as told to Jeff Guinn

According to Wikipedia (perhaps the best-known online encyclopedia, for those who don’t internet), Saint Nicholas of Myra was a fourth century Christian bishop who is often credited with being the original Santa Claus. He was an early Christian bishop in the ancient Greek city of Myra (modern-day Demre, Turkey) during the time of the Roman Empire. This day—December 6—is considered his “Saint Day” in many Eastern Christian churches as well as Western denominations that choose to celebrate Saints Days. He is best-known for both his miracles and his history of gift-giving.

“In one of the earlier attested and most famous incidents from his life,” Wikipedia says, “he (Nicholas of Myra) is said to have rescued three girls from being forced into prostitution by dropping a sack of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so that their father could pay a dowry for each of them.” Hence, the origin of Santa Claus as the unknown helper of others.

Other stories about Saint Nicholas/Santa Claus can be a found in a fascinating series of books by Texas journalist and author Jeff Guinn. He is the author of a series of three books called The Christmas Chronicles. The series includes The Autobiography of Santa Claus (1998), How Mrs. Claus Saved Christmas (2006), and The Great Santa Search (2007). These books are classified as works of “historical fiction”—or “fact-based fantasy.” They are lengthy reads but would be a perfect read-aloud story for families with older children or multigenerational groups.

Both Saint Nicholas of Myra and Santa Claus offer examples of the power of showing kindness to those around you without credit or recompense. This Advent, pray that each of us will show the same spirit of giving.

Mary Jo Powell