Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, December 25, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 8

Mountain View News Saturday, December 25, 2021 



[Nyerges is an author / lecturer / educator who has written such books as “Extreme 
Simplicity,” “How to Survive Anywhere,” “Guide to Wild Foods,” and 
other books. Information about his books and classes is available at www. 
SchoolofSelf-Reliance, or Box 41834, Eagle Rock,CA 90041]

 Recently, I heard a discussion on the radio where two seemingly normal 

and sane adults were arguing about the racial heritage of “Santa Claus.” 

They argued about whether Santa was white or black. One was saying that 
since they saw a black Santa in Harlem, they knew the issue was more or less resolved. Really? 

I listened with interest to another conversation where a Christian woman complaining that 
Santa Claus has gained a more prominent role during the Christmas season than the Jesus 
child. She argued that this was a sign that “we” have allowed secularism – and maybe even 
paganism – to creep into the Christmas tradition. Really? 

So, who is Santa Claus? Isn’t he just a made-up, wholly fictitious jolly man to make us feel 
happy during the dark of December? Not really. There actually was an historical figure, upon 
which the modern “Santa Claus” is based, whether you make him white, black, or brown. 

Nikolas of Myra was an historical 4th century Bishop 
in the Catholic church of Asia Minor (mod-ern-day 
Demre, Turkey). Yes, he was a Catholic, and he was 
a priest! He was born on March 15, 270, in Pataya, 
Lycia, in Asia Minor, what is now modern Turkey. At 
that time, however, the ar-ea was culturally Greek, 
and was politically a part of the Roman diocese of 
Asia. He was the only child of wealthy Greek parents, 
who both died in an epidemic when Nikolas was 
young. Nikolas (also spelled “Nicholas”) inherited a 
fortune from his parents, and was then raised by his 
uncle (also named Nikolas), who was a Bishop of Patara, 
and who trained young Nikolas into priesthood. 
Nikolas was said to be religious from an early age, 
and he always fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

Because of his outspoken beliefs, he was persecuted by the Romans and was imprisoned during 
the persecution of Diocletian.

 In case you never heard of the “persecution of Diocletian” (I hadn’t – I was probably playing 
hookie that day and missed that history lesson), it was the most severe of the persecutions 
against Christians, simply because they were Christians, in the Roman Empire. It was also 
known as the “Great Persecution.” In 303, four emperors issued a series of dictatorial laws 
which essentially did away with any legal rights of Christians. The edicts demanded that the 
Christians comply with traditional Roman “religious” practices, meaning, giving sacrifices 
to the various Roman gods. This persecution was severe, but weakest in the British colonies 
where the Empire had the least sway. It was the most severe in the Eastern provinces, where 
Nikolas lived. 

Nikolas refused to worship the Roman gods, so he was tossed into a prison, where he was 
report-edly hungry and cold for about 5 years. With the rise of Constantine, the persecutions 
came to an end in 313. Constantine is known for “Christianizing” the Roman Empire, and 
re-naming all the Mythraic and so-called “pagan” holidays so they could all now be regarded 
as Christian holidays. With Constantine in power, Nikolas was released. 

Shortly after his return to his homeland in 317 A.D., Nikolas became the Bishop of Myra. 

 He was later invited to attend the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the famous council where 
much of the modern dogma of the Catholic church was determined. Nikolas of Myra was 
one of many bishops to participate in the Council at Constantine’s request. He is listed as the 
151st attendee at the Council. There, Nikolas was a staunch anti-Arian. Arius, from Alexandria, 
held the belief that the “Son of God” did not always exist, but was created by the Fa-ther. 
Nikolas disagreed with Arius, and defended the then-developing orthodox Christian viewpoint. 
According to stories told, Nikolas got so angry at Arius that he punched him in the 
face! Really? Proto-Santa Claus punches a fellow man of the cloth? Wow! That would make 
an awesome video! 

Back in his homeland, Nikolas became known as the generous bishop. Remember, he inherited 
wealth from his parents, and he would sometimes give gold and other valuables to those 
that he learned were in need. In one case, it is said that Nikolas tossed a bag of gold coins 
into a needy family’s yard, anonymously. He was said to be humble, and didn’t want to be 
seen giving money to people, so he did it secretly. He was so famous for giving such gifts in 
private when he traveled the countryside, children were told to go to sleep quickly or Nikolas 
would not come with gifts. This, apparently, is the origin of telling children to go to sleep or 
that Santa will not come. 

In one story, he apparently snuck into the home of a family where the three daughters of a 
poor man were about to get married. Nikolas put some gold into the stockings which the girls 
left by the fire to dry. This, apparently, is the origin of hanging up stockings on Christmas eve. 

He was also well known for the gifts that he gave to newly married couples during the already 
established Christmas season. 

And so it goes. Nikolas was a complex man, part of the new Catholic tradition which celebrated 
the birth of Jesus on the already observed winter solstice. (Early Judeo-Christians did 
not celebrate the birth of Jesus, a date that has been lost to history, but historians know that 
Jesus was definitely not born on December 25). 

Nikolas died on December 6, 343,which is to this day known as “Saint Nicholas Day.” Upon 
his death, he was buried in the cathedral of Myra. He is revered as a saint in most versions of 
Chris-tianity and is especially honored in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. 

By the year 450, churches in Greece and Asia Minor were being named in honor of Nikolas. 
He was officially honored as a saint by the Eastern Catholic Church in 800. December 6 began 
to be celebrated as Bishop Nicholas Day in France by the 1200s. 

As time went on, when ever someone received a mysterious gift, it would be attributed to 
Saint Nicholas! 

The Dutch called Saint Nicholas “Sinterklass,” which is the most likely manner in which the 
name Saint Nicholas gradually evolved into “Santa Claus.” Along the way, Saint Nicholas 
was given some of the attributes of Odin, the Norse God, who could travel through the sky 
and who had a secret home somewhere around the north pole. Come to think of it, even the 
Superman story borrowed from Odin. Remember how Superman sometimes goes to a secret 
cavern in the Northern coldlands and converses with his ancestors via ice crystals? 

The image continued to evolve over the years, with the Coco Cola company giving the world 
a somewhat sanitized and plumper Saint Nicholas-Santa Claus with their early 20th century 
ads. There we began to see the fatter bearded man in the red suit. 

Today, the man you see in the mall is the modern condensation of fact and myth, embodying 
the generosity of one Catholic Bishop, the good will of all who gave gifts in his stead, and bits 
of the mythology of Odin. Nicholas was not a “pagan,” and he was not a myth. He lived, and 
he con-tinues to in the hearts and minds of all those who keep him alive. 


Gemma & Gillian, age 
8 months, are two sweet 
little twin sisters. Gilli-an 
has the white blaze on her 
forehead and is the most 
outgoing, but Gemma is 
coming right along. The 

girls are good at entertaining them-selves because they 
are so bonded. These cuties are playful, love their toys 
and treats, and are purr-fectly sweet! They would be 
fine with oth-er cats, and look forward to being pampurred 
in a loving forever home. They will be shy at 
first. Adopt together. Come and meet them and fall in 
LOVE!! You can make an appointment to meet them 
at The Cats Pajamas, 626-449-1717. They’ve been waiting and waiting for their purr-fect 
home! Is it yours?
Just submit your application at Lifeline for Pets:, where you can 
see more pictures of them and their video on our Teen Cats page. 

Pet of the Week 

Ten-month-old Jobie is a large, playful, goofy puppy! He’svery active and loves a good game of chase. Since he’s apuppy, he’s still learning, but he’s very treat-motivatedand picks up new things quickly. He’s very curious andloves to greet everyone. If you have experience withbigger dogs and love that playful puppy energy, Jobiemay be perfect for you!

 The adoption fee for dogs is $150. All dog adoptionsinclude spay or neuter, microchip, and age-appropriatevaccines.

 New adopters will receive a complimentary healthand-
wellness exam from VCA Animal Hospitals, aswell as a goody bag filled with information about howto care for your pet.

 View photos of adoptable pets and schedule an adoptionappointment at Adoptions are byappointment only, and new adoption appointments are available every Sunday andWednesday at 10:00 a.m.

Pets may not be available for adoption and cannot be held for potential adoptersby phone calls or email. 

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