To all the grumpy sanctimonious supersaints with a beef with Saint Nick, I say "PFFFBBBBBITTT". This Deacon not only believes in Saint Nick, but thinks that the Church would be blessed if more of her saints felt so, and emulated the traits that made Nicholas of Myrna a mighty man of God.
I have heard some pretty outrageous and breathless stories surrounding Santa. The Jack Chick wing of Christianity likes to equate "Santa" with "Satan" (A stretch, but there are folk who will go to the wall over this). Our "Santa" can be traced back all the way to the dawning era of Christianity. The name "Santa Claus" sprouted from the mispronunciation of the Dutch "Sinter Klaas" (Saint Nicholas), a man of deep and abiding faith in the Almighty and one who's faith had real shoe leather.
Nicholas was born to an ethnic Greek family during the second half of the Third Century in the city of Patara, Asia Minor (Turkey). He was orphaned early as a result of the plague but being from an influential family, he was not left destitute. This wealth would become a source of blessing for the poor and destitute and Nicholas was soon recognized for his faith, devotion and compassion. In short order, this young man would be made Bishop of Myrna, a coastal city of Asia Minor. Here, Nicholas' ministry was extended to the sailors and mariners who made Myrna a port of call. Nicholas would become acquainted with suffering during the bitter Diocletian persecution, a horrible onslaught against the Church. With the passing of this, Nicholas returned to Myrna where his ministry continued.
Nicholas was present at the Council of Nicea in 325 where history records his staunch stand for the historic, apostolic faith. A story exists that during this event, in a moment of extreme frustration at the blustering of a heretic, Nicholas punched Arius square in the nose. Other stories speak not to a bishop turned boxer, but to a man who would carry out acts of compassion under the cover of night or place his own life at risk to rescue sailors. The Bishop left this life for life eternal on December 6, 343.
Anglicans remember Nicholas today, praying:
Almighty God, in your love you gave your servant Nicholas of Myra a perpetual name for deeds of kindness both on land and sea: Grant, we pray, that your Church may never cease to work for the happiness of children, the safety of sailors, the relief of the poor, and the help of those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
A Happy Saint Nick's Day to all!