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Saint Nick gives his final gift

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Art by Joanne Jun

Art by Joanne Jun

Art by Joanne Jun

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The legend of Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, and his kindness and generosity has been retold by generations, yet it is rarely discussed in history where this magical and historical being came about and where he ended up.  Early this previous October, the site of a relatively intact 1600-year old tomb was found beneath the St. Nicholas Church in the Antalya province of southern Turkey. It was discovered by archaeologists after seeing electronic surveys which appeared to show a gap beneath the church and its base. They believe that these are the remains of St. Nicholas.

As commonly known, St. Nicholas gained his fame in Germany, where he was widely known for his altruism towards children and families on Christmas. So how did he end up buried in Turkey?

The original St. Nicholas was a bishop from the 4th century who lived in Myra, Asia Minor, known today as Turkey.  He was born into a rich family, but was orphaned at a young age and inherited all of their money.  It was not until the 16th century that St. Nicholas became known as Santa Claus.  As history has it, the original St. Nicholas indeed never ventured out of Turkey, and other countries such as Germany simply recreated his role.

“It’s amazing to gain the knowledge of the true story behind St. Nick,” said freshman Sarah Schultz.

This name came about during the Protestant Reformation, when someone was given the task of gifting orphans and children at Christmas.  This giver was soon titled Father Christmas and Old Man Christmas. The well-favored tradition went on for many years in Turkey, with St. Nicholas, or the deemed Santa Claus, continuing on his newfound role at Christmas time.

“The location which he was found was common for the Middle Ages. It is common in history to see that a figure like him would be moved to a more central place for all to see,” said social studies teacher Mr. Cory Jensen.

This tradition became so popular in Germany and the Netherlands they they also invented a Santa Claus—Kris Kringle—for themselves. The tradition went even so far as Dutch settlers bringing Santa Claus with them to the Americas, where we get the tradition and folk tales today.  This makes it logical for St. Nicholas to be buried in Turkey, which lead archaeologists to come to the conclusion that this is indeed the real St. Nicholas.  With further testing and research to come, archaeologists worldwide hope to find new advancements in the real history of this iconic holiday figure.

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Saint Nick gives his final gift