What is the difference between Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus?
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Q:

What is the difference between Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus?

A:

Quick Answer

Saint Nicholas was a Bishop who lived during the fourth century A.D. in the city of Myra, located in what is now present-day Turkey. Santa Claus is a fictional character that is based largely on the stories of Saint Nicholas. Over time, stories of the real St. Nicholas and the fictional Santa Claus merged to create folk stories where the two are one and the same.

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Full Answer

St. Nicholas was orphaned as a teenager and used his sizable inheritance to provide gifts to people in need in his community. He was canonized for his generosity and is celebrated on the day of his death, Dec. 6. The stories of Santa Claus are built on the historical St. Nicholas. Santa Claus' red suit is an homage to the red bishop robes worn by St. Nicholas. The presents Santa Claus leaves in stockings refers back to a story of St. Nicholas where he learned of a man in his town who had three daughters and could not pay dowries for them to get married. He dropped a bag of gold for each daughter down the chimney at night. The bags fell into stockings that were drying by the fireplace, leading to the tradition of leaving stockings hanging by the fireplace to receive gifts. Santa Claus brings presents to children because St. Nicholas had an affinity for children, though the Saint was generous to everyone, not just youngsters.

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Related Questions

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    Where did the tradition of Christmas stockings start?

    A:

    The tradition of hanging Christmas stockings on Christmas dates back to the legend of St. Nicholas during the third century in Myra, Turkey. According to legend, filling stockings with gold was a way for St. Nicholas to give poor girls dowries.

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  • Q:

    Who is Santa Claus?

    A:

    Santa Claus is a figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins. Among several Western practices, he is believed to bring gifts to the homes of good children on the eve of Christmas (December 24). Other common names for Santa Claus are Saint Nicholas, Kris Krinngle or simply “Santa.”

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    Depending on each country's culture, nationalpost.com explains that Santa Claus's home is believed to exist in various locations, such as the North Pole, Drobak, Lapland and Greenland. The claim that Santa lives in the North Pole is most commonly attributed to North America and Britain.

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    Why does Santa Claus wear red and white?

    A:

    Santa Claus wears red and white because the legend comes from the Dutch folk tale of Sinterklaas, who had a white beard and wore a red bishop's miter. Cartoonist Thomas Nast drew the character for more than 30 years, finally adopting the red outfit from the folk tale.

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