Nicholas of Myra is considered to be the original Santa Claus. The Great Giver of Gifts, the Gentleman of Generosity, the Creator of Compassion, he is thought to be the example which Christians for centuries now have followed to create the Christmas gift-giving tradition. Read about him below:
"The original “Old St. Nick” who inspired the tradition of Santa Claus, Nicholas was bishop of Myra in fourth-century Turkey. Little is known about his life except that he entrusted himself to -Jesus at an early age and, when his parents died, gave all of their possessions to the poor. While serving as bishop, Nicholas learned of three girls who were going to be sold into slavery by their father. Moved to use the church’s wealth to ransom the lives of these little ones, he tossed three bags of gold through the family’s window. We recall this ancient Christmas gift, even as we remember that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year in the global sex trade today." (Book of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, Okoro, Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove).
So not only was St.Nick a generous man… he created the mold that future abolitionists would shape and innovate.
I want to make a point here which could very easily sound like a guilt trip. If you feel guilty… well… ask God if you really are. I'm not trying to use guilt at all, but rather point out a glaring irony that is growing each year as we all approach Christmas.
The original St.Nick gave of himself to rescue people FROM slavery.
The manufactured Coca-Cola version of St.Nick (Santa Claus) goads us to buy cheap junk made in other countries using trafficked persons, forcing people INTO slavery… and keeping them there.
If the original St.Nick saw how we have turned gift-giving in to the consumer-crazed, self-indulgent glutton fest that it is, he would roll over in his grave. To make ourselves happy, our loved ones happy, and yes… even to give to charitable causes, we buy and buy and buy and buy slave-made items, keeping fellow human beings in sweat shops, fields, factories, and plantations.
Anyone spot the tragedy here?
The example of St.Nick certainly shows that giving gifts can be holy… can be loving… can be wonderful! But the frenzy it has become is not the example we are following. We want things and we even use the Bible to justify it all.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Sometimes it really IS wrong for us to purchase that new Wii… iPhone… Ferbie… shoes… slammin' pair of jeans. We.Don't.Need.Them.
Not only do we NOT need them, but by choosing to purchase them anyway, we are perpetuating the slavery cycle around the world. To us, it's a new toy. To those in the sweat shops, it's life and death. If we truly hold human life as sacred, created in the image of God, those of us able to chose between toy and life ought to have a sincere and higher regard for what is happening in our world. When we choose consumerism over the lives of those making our toys, we degrade the Imago Dei.
Which St.Nick will be our example?