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Sunday, 6 December 2009

Happy St Nicholas Day

St Nicholas of Smyrna, now in modern Turkey, was bishop there in the early history of the church. It is his example of giving gifts to those who needed help that is the model for our gift giving at Christmas and other times. He is also the model of Santa Claus - more propery Sinta Klaus, the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas - and some of our traditions.

The traditional red coat may be a confusion of traditions as well, since it is the colour used by the church to depict a martyrdom and Nicholas was not in Western tradition, a martyr.

Today is the day in Holland that "Struwel Pieter", a rather scary figure, visits homes and checks on which children deserve presents. In some traditions as well, it is this day that gifts are exchanged and not on the 25th. Whichever tradition you follow, remember Nicholas, and remember who he was following in his generosity to others. It is an example we do well to follow.

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