Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Contribution to ABC WEDNESDAY

"S" is for Santa -- the REAL Santa.
(From Archive)

Try to picture this setting.

First off, it’s very hot, the sun’s beating down; we’re in the tropics. There’s a beautiful beach and the ocean, it’s the Mediterranean, is dazzling. This is what they call the Turkish Riviera, and the name is justified; it can hold its own with the French Riviera.

Reason I’m telling you about this place is that some years ago I was in this tropical paradise and had a chance to meet Santa. The REAL Santa.
Everyone knows that ol’ S. Claus lives up in the frozen north with Mrs Claus and a houseful of industrious, non-union elves, not to mention a stable of reindeer, and that Santa has always lived there.
Not true.

Santa Claus was originally Saint Nicholas, who lived in the fourth century and who never saw the North Pole (and maybe never saw any snow). He was born and lived right here in the hot, sunny Turkish Riviera, though the name would not have been familiar to him. I was there working on a tourism-promotion project for the Turkish government and I thought it would be interesting to show Santa’s real home, where he was born and raised.
As for the actual saint, Nicholas, he had been famous for his generosity, for the way he gave gifts to the needy. (Well, he should have; he was a saint.) He became known throughout the Christian world.

He wound up in Holland, where they changed his appearance somewhat. They also took his name and sort of Dutchified it: St. Nicholas became Sinterklaas. When the Dutch lived in New Amsterdam they celebrated Christmas with Sinterklaas and all the English folks living around them thought the old fellow was sort of cool so they adopted him for their Christmas too.
They couldn’t quite pronounce “Sinterklaas” however; the closest they could get to it was “Santa Claus.”

So somehow the old fellow had metamorphosed from a 4th-century saint to a corpulent chap in a red suit who was always smiling about something.
One day I was standing on that beach, working, when an Orthodox Christian priest approached and asked if I would like to see the bones of St. Nicholas? Of course, I said.
He returned with a small case, beautifully made, lined with satin, that, he assured me, contained some of the bones of the Saint. I was aware of the thousands of kids who go to see Santa at Christmastime and here I was getting to see the real Santa.
For a fleeting moment I thought of saying that I wanted a pony for Christmas, but I couldn’t be sure Orthodox priests had a sense of humor.
:-)

26 comments:

Kate said...

St Nicholais still comes to our house every December. Honest, it's true; I've seen him with my own eyes!

VJF said...

Thanks for the history lesson. Great post!

Sylvia K said...

I love your post for the day! How fun! And a great history lesson indeed! Love your pictures of the Turkish Riviera, gorgeous blue water. And, of course, I love Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, Sinterklaaus -- whatever you want to call him!! Have a great week, Berowne!

Sylvia

sheri... said...

my friend, this was fascinating! i honestly saw saint nick in my minds eye being from england, not turkey! and to have actually seen some of his bones?? really, how cool was that!! and thanks for the great chuckle at the end of your story...i'm still surprised at your sense of humor but so glad you held your tongue, silly boy ;)

Mar said...

What an interesting post about Santa!! We celebrate Nikolausstag on Dec 6th every year ;)

S is for street and...

Roger Owen Green said...

The evolution of St. Nick is endlessly fascinating. I knew about the Turkish connection, but not the specific geography. well done.

On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, thank you!

Berowne said...

Kate: "St Nicholais still comes to our house every December. Honest, it's true; I've seen him with my own eyes!"

As long as you leave out some milk and cookies, you should have no problem. :-)

Berowne said...

My thanks to VJF, Sylvia K., Mar and sheri for their friendly comments.

Berowne said...

Roger O. G.: "On behalf of the ABC Wednesday team, thank you!"

And I thank you for ABC Wednesday.

Manang Kim said...

Love your post! Thanks for sharing!

ABC Wednesday~S

photowannabe said...

I love your twist on Santa. thanks for the history lesson and your sense of humor too.

Tumblewords: said...

Truly interesting, charming and fun!

Amy said...

I love the story of St Nicholas - I'd forgotten the Turkish connection, but I remember hearing about his generosity in that he gave poor girls their dowries so they could marry? I display a collection of St. Nicholas at Christmas - I really enjoyed your post! And that resort in Turkey - wow!

Hood Photo Blog said...

Cool bit of history, and wonderful photos!!

Hood Photo Blog

Mara said...

What a great S. And even introducing our good old Sinterklaas (who by the way is also called Saint Nicholas in the Netherlands).

R. Burnett Baker said...

Now I know what I'll ask Santa to give me next Christmas: A round trip ticket to that little resort in the photo. Thanks, Berowne! ( That IS sand, right? Not snow?)

Rick

jabblog said...

You never can tell with priests, can you? I'd love to have heard his reaction.

RuneE said...

A Santa post with a difference. Let us hope Disney, Coca Cola & al. reads it.

Derrick said...

We seem to have a habit of adapting things for our easier understanding and convenience, which is fine if we don't lose sight of the original. I think you were wise not to ask for the pony!

Berowne said...

Manang Kim, photowannabe, Tumblewords, Amy, Hood Photo Blog, Mara, Rick, jabblog, RuneE and Derrick -- thanks for some much-appreciated comments.

Carol said...

Very interesting. I didn't know St Nicholas originated in Turkey. Sometimes evolution loses something in the translation; I prefer the original.

Joy said...

Ho Ho Ho:-) No wonder he metamorphosed, there were no mince pies in Turkey. Beautiful riveria photos, great post.

Berowne said...

Thanks to Carol and Joy for some more friendly comments.

LisaF said...

I was hoping someone would feature SANTA! I love all things Santa, St. Nick, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kriss Kringle, Sinterklaas, Pere Noel, Papai Noel or Babbo Natale! Yes, I'm a collector. And you have my other favorite...beaches and ocean. So, your post is absolutely perfect! Thanks for popping over to my place and leaving a nice comment. :)

Berowne said...

LisaF: "So, your post is absolutely perfect!"

What a great comment. Thanks, LisaF.

Anna said...

Thank you for the interesting history lesson! Good choice of S-word.
Best wishes,
Anna

Anna's S-words

 
Blog designed by Blogger Boutique using Christy Skagg's "A Little Bit of That" kit.