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[Masters of Our Culture]


SANTA CLAUS      


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Saint Nicholas, known in the world as Santa Claus was born in an important Lycian city Patara, located on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey.

Towards 300 A.D. when Patara was in its prosperity era, a child was born in the family of a rich wheat merchant living in the city that they named Nicholas. After his father died and left him all his fortune, Nicholas decided to spend the money for to help poor people. During this time, one very rich person living in Patara has lost all his fortune and wasn’t even able to buy a marriage outfit for his daughters. When Nicholas found out about this, he decided to help that person. In order not to disclose himself and dishonor that person, he secretly threw a sac of gold enough to buy a marriage outfit into the open window of his older daughter’s room when everybody was asleep. In the morning his older daughter was very happy to find the money and she was saved from the bad situation.

Then Nicholas wanted to do the same thing for the middle and little daughters but, since their windows were closed he threw the gold coins from the chimney. And this is how the legend of Santa Claus that brings presents in New Year began. This is why Saint Nicholas is pictured with three golden balls on icons and images.

Like all the other Christians, Santa Claus was too arrested during the times of Emperor Diocletianus and Licinius who were against Christians. In 325 A.D. Nicholas participated in Ecumenical Consul held in Iznik (Nikaea) as a Myra Archbishop to solve the problems of Christianity.

Saint Nicholas who was also known as a defender of students is believed to die in 6th of December 343, at the age of 65. After his death Myrans built a church in his name and placed his body in a sarcophagus to rest till the end of times.

In 20th of April 1087, during the crusade merchants coming from Bari stole his bones and took them to Bari and buried them into basilica that they made. Some bones that are believed belong to him are now kept in Antalya Museum.

According to their epigraph, the church that was built in the name of Santa Claus was repaired in 1042 by the Byzantine Emperor IX Constantine Monomachos and his wife Empress Zoe.

In XIII century Myra joined Turkey but, the church was freely used by prayers and was repaired too. The chapel near the church was repaired in 1738.

There are over two thousand churches in many cities built in the name of Santa Clause as a protecting saint of the city. His life story and miracles were described in many books. The oldest book about Santa Claus was written in 750 – 800 years by the monk named Michael from the Stadion Monastery in Byzantion.