San Nicolò: the origin of Santa Claus
The story of Santa Claus begins with a bishop of Myra
San Nicolò del Lido di Venezia, the saint to whom today is dedicated the Church in the northernmost area of the island (the area of San Nicolò), was a bishop of Myra, in present-day Turkey.
His story is mostly shrouded in mystery, but one thing is certain: his figure inspired that of Santa Claus, Santa Claus.
Saint Nicholas is venerated today especially in Bari and, indeed, in Venice, and is celebrated on 6 December. His relics are divided between the two cities, which both stole after the year 1000 and the fall of Myra at the hands of the Muslims. The remains of the saint that were brought to Venice were transported to the Monastery of the Lido, and Nicola was immediately declared protector of the Venetian fleet.
But why is Saint Nicholas “transformed” into Santa Claus? There are two legends related to his figure that describe him as a good and generous man especially with children. The first concerns three girls whom her father wanted to prostitute and to whom Nicola, moved with pity, gave a dowry so that they could marry. The second, more grim, concerns instead three children, that two heinous hosts had torn to pieces and put in brine, but that Nicholas saved, performing a miracle. In fact, he took them out of the jars alive and well. And so, starting from these two legends, over the centuries, Saint Nicholas gradually became the generous old man who distributed gifts to children on Christmas nigh