By Bruce Holland, Publisher
I always find December a delightful uplifting time of year! It is a time when the temperatures start to drop, and the ground is crispy under foot. A time when the lights seem that much brighter, and the colours of the season bring out a feeling of joy!
Naturally, for Christians, we celebrate an important religious festival, to remember that Christ was born at this time of year and would go on to live and die to save our souls. In keeping with these religious festivities there are all kinds of special events and activities that take place, mostly involving food.
Then there is the legend of Santa Claus which can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.
Nicholas’s popularity spread and he became known as the protector of children and sailors. His feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6. This was traditionally considered a lucky day to make large purchases or to get married.
The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace.
Gift-giving, mainly centered around children, has been an important part of the Christmas celebration since the holiday’s rejuvenation in the early 19th century. Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly popular Santa Claus.
In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model. It was only a matter of time before stores began to attract children, and their parents, with the lure of a peek at a “live” Santa Claus. In the early 1890s, the Salvation Army needed money to pay for the free Christmas meals they provided to needy families. They began dressing up unemployed men in Santa Claus suits and sending them into the streets of New York to solicit donations. Those familiar Salvation Army Santas have been ringing bells on the street corners of American cities ever since.
Perhaps the most iconic department store Santa is Kris Kringle in the 1947 classic Santa Claus movie “Miracle on 34th Street.” A young Natalie Wood played a little girl who believes Kris Kringle when he says he is the real Santa Claus.
No mater what you believe or how you choose to celebrate Christmas we here at Parkview News hope it will be a safe, joyous time of year for you and yours!
Photo by Brett Sayles: https://www.pexels.com/photo/lighted-christmas-tree-1708601/