Friday, December 21, 2012

Meeting the Real Santa

(Submitted to Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "X" is for Xceptional.)
In the middle of this holiday season I thought I’d tell you about my visit with Santa. Not the tedious fat guy in the red suit in the department store, the real Santa.

Check out this picture; we're in the tropics. The sun has detonated an explosion of heat and beauty. There’s a magnificent 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. 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 comfortably 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 thin, limber 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. It was something truly Xceptional. 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.
Merry, as the saying goes, Christmas, everyone!
(Also submitted to Sunday Scribblings)

19 comments:

tourareas said...

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so it will be a better information’s for me. Try to post best informations like this always

SilverGardenia said...

As always it's great to share your memories.

Sue said...

You are a good teacher!

And Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.

=)

Dina said...

The priest just came up to you? And you got to see the relics of St. Nicholas?? In sunny Turkey?
That's the best Christmas present I've ever heard of. Even better than a pony.

kaykuala said...

This is educational, Berowne! It spells reality on a story long seen and thought of as mythological. It's a privilege to be shown relics of the past of historical importance. Thanks for sharing!

Hank

Roger Owen Green said...

That was an Xcellent writeup.

Berowne said...

Thanks so much, Rog. Happy, as the saying goes, holidays!

Tigerbrite said...

Charming story. There is a tradition of preserving parts of the body of saints in Spain too :)

Lady In Read said...

:) thank you for sharing.. happy holidays

Altonian said...

Well done Berowne. A little bit of historical fact that needed re-telling. Merry Winter Solstice!

Kate said...

In our family St. Nick and Santa are two different beings. More fun this way! Kate, ABC Team

Leslie: said...

eXcellent! I've explained how the X in Xmas came about this week. Merry Xmas to you and yours.

Leslie
abcw team

Berowne said...

Thanks to y'all for the fine comments. Happy end-of-the-year holiday!

Rinkly Rimes said...

I knew a lot of this story but not the Sinterclaus part of it. I love coming to your blog for your completely original take on life. All the best for 2013.

Berowne said...

What a wonderful comment, Rinkly. Thanks so much.

Sheilagh Lee said...

Thank you for this informative post.

Catfish Tales said...

Loved your report on the Saint, Berowne. Such a pretty island it looks like too. And you're probably well aware of how the Turkish Saint sailed from Spanish waters, a once strong Arabic stronghold, and made it to the Benelux region, where we called him 'Sinter' (the adjectival case of 'saint') 'Klaas' (short for 'Nicholas'). I do like the fact that the day of the Saint's visit is 05 December, which gets all the kiddie gifts out of the picture. Our Christmas celebrations then are family get togethers more akin to American Thanksgiving. In that they're usually lovely and restive. Cheers

Other Mary said...

And now for the most important quesiton: Are you on Santa's nice list or naughty list?

listeningdaisy said...

Now I'm wondering if the priest had a sense of humor. Thank you for sharing this, it was entertaining and informative.

 
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