St. Nick ~ History Of Santa Claus
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The Legend Of Santa Claussantabanner

stnick1stnick2stnick3A long time ago, a bishop named Nicholas lived in what is now the country of Turkey. No one knows much about him. But there are stories that he often helped children who were in need.

Many years, after his death, Nicholas was made a saint. In time, he became the patron saint of children. Today, the date of his death, December 6, is an important holiday in some countries in Europe. On the night before, children put out their shoes or hang up stockings. Early next morning, they rush to see what gifts Saint Nicholas gave them.

Saint Nicholas visits towns and cities, leads parades, talks to children, and often hands out small gifts. He is dressed as a bishop, of course, wearing a red or white robe and a tall, pointed hat.

Saint Nicholas always has a helper. In the Netherlands, this helper is called Black Peter. In Germany, he's Knecht Ruprecht. In parts of France, he's Pre Fouettard. And in Luxembourg, he's known as Hoesecker.

Of course, all the children love Saint Nicholas. But they're afraid of his helper. For it is the helper who keeps track of who was good and who was naughty. Naughty children may get only switches, with which their parents can spank them! They may even be carried away in the helper's bag until they learn to be good!

Dutch settlers in America still continue to celebrate this feast day. Their name for Saint Nicholas is Sinterklaas. And in English, this became Santa Claus.

Saint Nick in other countries:

United States and Canada ~ Presents are brought by Santa Claus. He drives through the sky in a sleigh drawn by eight reindeer. He slips down the chimney, leaves gifts and is on his way again. Santa Claus wears red clothes trimmed with white fur, and has a snow-white beard and mustache.

England ~ The gift bringer is called Father Christmas. He looks much like Santa Claus, but has a longer coat and a longer beard.

France ~ Santa is known as Pre Nol.

Brazil ~ Santa Claus is called Papa Nol.

Germany ~ Children get presents from Christkindl, the Christ child.

Costa Rica, Colombia, and parts of Mexico, ~ the gift bringer is el Nio Jesus, "the Infant Jesus."

Sweden ~ Gifts and goodies are brought by an elf called tomte. He's a Christmas gnome who has a sleigh that is pulled by goats.

Holland ~ Sinterklaas is what the Dutch call Saint Nicholas. He arrives in the city of Amsterdam by boat.

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