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February 01, 2009
Soon Marry Christmas…
Santa Claus is from Anatolia, not the North Pole. 2372199120_b034906a72_m Saint Nicholas was born in Patara ( 17 km to Kas) on the Aegean Sea coast of Anatolia. As a Byzantine Christian bishop, Nicholas of Myra anonymously dropped gifts of coins down the chimneys of village girls who lacked dowries, thereby allowing them to marry and probably avoid a life of prostitution. After his death he was declared Saint Nicholas, patron saint of virgins, sailors, children, pawnbrokers, Holy Russia, and others. Saint Nicholas’ town of Myra is now called Demre in Turkey. 
     The fame of Saint Nicholas grew in different cultures, such as in the Dutch figure of « Sancte Claus », and in the German legend of Christkindl (the Christ child) who was helped by the elf Belsnickle, imitated by adults in furs who brought gifts. These traditions evolved into Kris Kringle, as defined by Reverend Clement Moore in the famous 1822 poem « A Visit From St. Nicholas » which starts:  » ‘Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house / Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse… . »  
    
     Built before his death in 343 CE, the original Saint Nicholas Church held his remains and was restored as a Byzantine basilica in 1043, and was restored again in 1862 by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, and again by Turkish archaeologists. An ancient Greek marble sarcophagus had been reused to bury the Saint; but his bones were stolen in 1087 by merchants from Bari, Italy, where today his remains rest in Basilica of San Nicola.  • St. Nicholas’ cult spread beyond the Byzantine Empire in the 6th -11th centuries, celebrated especially in the East Church under Russian imperial patronage.  He later became the patron saint of Greece and Russia as well as of children, sailors, merchants, scholars, those unjustly imprisoned and travelers.  St. Nicholas was known for his charitable nature and humility.  Several legends about him have been based on his kind and giving nature and have led to the development of Santa Claus. His representations in art are as various as his alleged miracles.
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