Bloggerhood Etc. 12/9/13

Girl lights an Advent Wreath

Whittman photo (via Our Sunday Visitor)

A little Advent, a little Christmas, and the rest of the Best of the Week …

Best Advent Resource List.Prepare the Way of the Lord” at Our Sunday Visitor.

Most Mindful Christmas Gift List.7 Gift Ideas for the One Who is Struggling” by Addie Zierman.

Best Santa Profile.The Real St. Nicholas” by Joe Towalski at Catholic Spirit.

Best Comic.I Don’t Own a TV” at xkcd.

Best Top Ten.Top Ten Pope Moments” by Noah Rayman at TIME.com.

Best Statement of the Obvious.Rush Limbaugh Knows Nothing About Christianity” by Andrew Sullivan at The Dish.

Funniest.Breaking Madden: A land where ‘offsides’ has no meaning” by Jon Bois at SB Nation.

Saddest (But Truest). “Mike Shanahan’s Brilliant Last Act as Redskins Coach; Making Everyone Forget He Sucked” by KC Clyburn at HTTR 24-7.

Best Tribute.A Southern Cross Love Song: Remembering Nelson “Madiba” Mandela” by Lisa-Jo Baker at A Deeper Story.

Biggest Surprise.  The weather in Eugene over the weekend. (Story via KEZI 9 News.)

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

The Original Santa Claus

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas of Myra (Photo: Boyana Church)

In honor of the Feast of St. Nicholas, here is an article I wrote for the Portland Examiner in 2009 titled Meet the Original Santa Claus:

St. Nicholas was born around A.D. 270 in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). Little is known of his life. He was bishop of Myra, also in Asia Minor, and he most likely suffered persecution and imprisonment under the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Following the legalization of Christianity by Constantine (313) he probably attended the First Council of Nicea, where an early version of the Nicene Creed was drafted. He is believed to have died on December 6, 347.

So how did St. Nicholas of Myra become jolly ol’ Saint Nick, aka Santa Claus? A legend tells how the saint gave money anonymously to a poor man with three daughters. Nicholas threw three bags of coins in the man’s window, one for each daughter. Depending on the version of the legend he gave the coins on consecutive nights, or annually. Because of the legend, Nicholas became commonly acknowledged as the patron saint of children, and giving gifts became a tradition on his feast day, Dec 6.

The Dutch brought Nicholas to the New World in the form of Sinterklaas, who like Santa brings gifts to children, though on St. Nicholas’ Eve (Dec 5) not Christmas. Like Santa, Sinterklaas wears red and sports a big white beard, though his clothes are still that of a bishop.

It wasn’t until the Nineteeth Century, though, that the Santa we know today was born, thanks in part to illustrations by Thomas Nast and the poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas (commonly known as The Night Before Christmas.) attributed to Clement Clarke Moore. From these sources come the plump and jolly Santa, the red and white “santa suit,” the chimney, the names of the reindeer, and Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve.

The version of Santa we know today was popularized (though certainly not invented) by a 1930’s Coca Cola Campaign. Santa was obviously chosen by the soft drink company because his tradititional outfit of red and white matched their product making him the ideal symbol for a Christmas promotion, and subsequently a worldwide icon.

Santa Claus

Jolly ol’ Saint Nick and not-so-jolly Anna (Photo: Jack Burgess)

Link

Merry Christmas

In the spirit of the season, I present the story of Santa Claus, Indiana (from Chris Rodell at MSNBC.com):

Do you believe in Santa Claus? Answer no to that in one small midwestern town and you’ll be more than a holiday heretic. You’ll be an obstacle to civic advancement.
Welcome to Santa Claus, Ind., population 2,041, the only town in all America named after the Jolly Ol’ Elf and dedicated to celebrating the evergreen virtues of Christmas.

So to those who insist that Santa Claus isn’t real, you can cite the above article. Another option is to tell the story of St. Nicholas, as I did last year (on Examiner.com):

So how did St. Nicholas of Myra become jolly ol’ Saint Nick, aka Santa Claus? A legend tells how the saint gave money anonymously to a poor man with three daughters. Nicholas threw three bags of coins in the man’s window, one for each daughter. Depending on the version of the legend he gave the coins on consecutive nights, or annually.

Either way, you can tell any Scrooges who say otherwise that Santa Claus is real. The stories about him are just slightly exaggerated.

Merry Christmas!

Link

Archbishop Scrooge

It’s one thing to not teach your own kids about Santa, but it’s quite another to have someone stand up in your church and make your kids cry:

Almost every year, it seems, there’s a story about some wretched clergyman (in my experience, usually some Anglican who wants his name in the papers) who makes all the children in his parish cry by announcing that there’s no such person as Father Christmas. This year, I’m sorry to say, it’s a Catholic archbishop.

William Oddie suggests we reclaim St. Nicholas instead of rejecting him. I think he’s on to something.