Known as “Santa Claus” all over the world, Saint Nicholas was a bishop in the 4 th century who lived in Myra, Antalya. That is why today in modern days he is shown with a pointed hat. He grew up in a wealthy, but also very religious and charitable family. After both parents died during a plague epidemic, Nicholas distributed his inheritance among the people in need and especially he helped abandoned children with his secret gifts.”
Most of his actions were well thought actions. Like protecting three neighboring daughters from prostitution. With a gift of three golden apples (pictured above), which Nicholas secretly placed in the dark in the women’s house. This is where the secret gifting tradition comes from St Nicholas to our todays lives. The city of Myra, today the province of Kale/Demre, is located on the Mediterranean coast in southern Turkey between today’s tourist strongholds of Antalya and Fethiye.
You can find today Saint Nicholas Church in Antalya, which was built by the folks of Myra to honor Saint Nicholas. He helped the Anatolian people and made Myra Archbishop become Anatolia’s second largest religious authority. Due to the earthquakes in Myra the church was damaged and then it is renovated several times during middle byzantine period which you can notice from the wall frescoes and floor mosaics from this period. The other extensive repair of the church, which was destroyed for various reasons over the centuries, was carried out by the Russian Tsar Nicholas I in 1862. Today the church is open for tourists to visit and honor St. Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas died around 342 on 6th of December. 6th of December is celebrated as St. Nicholas Day in all over the world to honor and remember him.
His secreting gifting tradition still continues all over the world like putting the children’s beautifully polished shoes in front of the door the night before. If they were good, Nicholas fills the shoes with little things like sweets overnight.
We wish you happy St Nicholas Day, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!