Most children grow up being taught that if they're good a jolly old man will bring them toys at Christmas and if they're naughty, they'll get a lump of coal. For my final posting on December tradition's I'm going to give you a history of Santa Claus.
The primary inspiration for Sinterklaas is thought to be Saint Nicholas of Myra. He was known for his work with the poor and needy.
Due to the German and Scandinavian influence on the holiday, many comparisons have been made between Santa and Odin. As many other traditions of the holiday were Christianized it's thought that the modern Santa was also pulled from this God worshiped by many of the Germanic people. Some stories include one of Odin riding an eight legged horse named Sleipnir that could leap great distances, here again tying to Santa's magical reindeer. The tradition says that the children would put carrots or straw in their boots by the chimney for Sleipnir to eat, Odin would reward the children by replacing the food with gifts or candy. This is where the idea of putting stockings by the fireplace are thought to have originated.
Father Christmas is usually seen as a jolly fat man with a beard and a long green robe. He represents the spirit of Christmas, that being good cheer. He is most notability depicted in Charles Dickens's story "A Christmas Carol".
After the 1823 publication of the poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" the modern Santa gets most of the characteristics we know today. We know this as "Twas the Night Before Christmas". His clothes, his jolly face with rosy cheeks and even his reindeer are named.
To keep up with the modern age Santa sites are popping up all over the web. There's Northpole.com, Claus.com and even noradsanta.org.
The real spirit of "Santa" or of Christmas is that of giving. Reaching out to those who are less fortunate and giving back the blessings we have in our own lives. The spirit is out there and alive, as we saw most recently with the Secret Santa gifts of paying off a layaway at a Kmart store and the 50,000.00 donation to the Salvation Army.
These are big gifts to some of us. In this economy some barely have enough to feed themselves much less go and payoff someone else's bills right? There are so many things you can do to give back that don't include cash. Volunteering is a great way to help others. Usually these groups need bodies. They need people to come down and help with a Soup Kitchen or a Food Bank. The local animal shelter needs people to come down and interact with the animals to help them be more familiar with people and possibly adopted. Tell someone they left their bread at the end of the register. Hold the door for someone who is busy with their kids.
It's easy to continue the giving traditions of St. Nick, Odin, Father Christmas and Santa Claus. We have the ability to open our hearts and give back.
Wishing each of you a joyous holiday season.
Namaste & Blessed Be!
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