Sunday, December 18, 2011

Do we really know Santa Claus?

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all!

It is now the season...season for Santa Claus! We all know him, and most children in the world know him. His presence with us is  maybe as old as the Christmas tree, although i haven't searched that. Commerce use him to the fullest, with lots of his images of all sizes, as well as the gifts he will be giving yearly. And there is even a Santa Claus University. In 2011 alone, there are 2000 enrollees in one University of Santa Claus in South California. And because there is the idea that he is from North Pole, there is even a Santa Claus Village at the University of Lapland in Finland, and says that he lives in that village.

It was also told that Santa enters the house through the chimney. How about kids in the tropics, where chimneys are not a part of the house! I wonder if you experienced waking up at midnight trying to spy on Santa Claus. But most kids, as they grow-up, learn that Santa Claus is either their moms or their dads who put the gift in that famous sock, which contains Santa's gift when they wake up every Christmas mornings. 

But Santa Claus is a real person in history, who is actually St. Nicholas. I happened to visit Myra, Turkey in 2009, the home of Santa Claus and his church. Rather than explaining it here, these photos will give you clearer information.

 St Nicholas in front of his church in Myra, Turkey

Left: St Nicholas Church painting on the wall; Right: remnants of the old floor

Left: The columns of the original church; Right: the church basement passages

Different rooms of the church. More church photos HERE

I enlarged the above epitaph below to be more readable.
 St Nicholas is born on the 2nd half of the 3rd century AD, and he was the Bishop of Myra. The basic story why St Nicholas became Santa Claus, HERE.

Please take note of the different rooms in the church, and there is even a room for the Infidels

Most of the roads to Myra from Antalya are along the shore of the Mediterranean

 The rock tombs of Lycia are also in Myra (This is a very good reading reference)

The old theater is just beneath the rock tombs of Myra

Beside the old theater, below the rock tombs are the modern vegetable production areas, using modern cultural management practices and modern hybrids. Turkey supplies most of the fruits and vegetables for some European countries. The very old and the very new scenery exist side-by-side in Myra. The old towns during the time of St Nicholas are buried by earthquakes about 8 meters under these modern vegetable farms.

Our World Tuesday Graphic


  1. Those tombs are really fascinating. Oh how I'd love to go and visit. I didn't know that about St. Nick. There is another tradition here where the St. Nick comes on December 4th or 5th to put fruit and little toys in children's stockings. Most kids get confused thinking that St. Nick and Santa Claus are two different people. The tombs are nothing like the North Pole....and instead of elves, there are goblins:)

  2. What a wonderful tour. your photos are beautiful. I love the St Nicholas statue, the scenery and the old theater is amazing. great photos.

  3. interesting post ... how on earth did they manage the first couple of centuries without St Nick???????

  4. Thank you Andrea . . . for this fascinating account of St Nicholas. Myra is now on the list of places I wish to visit someday. I have read the news about the flash floods in your country. I am not sure exactly where you are. I hope you and yours are all safe.

  5. Myra is a fascinating place to visit and so good that you could meet 'face-to-face' with St Nicholas, the real Santa. As a kid, I enjoyed all the magical stories about Santa and his reindeers dashing through the snow and down the chim-chimneys with lots of gifts.

  6. Hi Andrea, A very interesting read! I knew a little about the commercial evolution of Santa Claus, but none of this more ancient history and the story of St Nicholas. It is intriguing to know that the basis for much northern mythology actually has warm Mediterranean roots.

  7. Hi Andrea, Great post about Santa Claus/St. Nicholas... I have another blog friend who only posts St. Nicholas Churches all over the world. I was shocked that there are so many. There must be hundreds--maybe thousands... Amazing, isn't it???

    We here in this country love the secular Santa Claus --but we also try to remember the real meaning of Christmas, that Jesus Christ was born... Sometimes we forget that...


  8. Fascinating Andrea and so interesting - did you get to Istanbul and see the Hagia Sofia?

  9. Carol - Thank you so much for the concern for me. The devastating floods were in Mindanao. Our 3 biggest islands are Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, north to south, respectively. I live in Luzon and we are spared. The previous floods which hit Luzon did not affect me, my family, relatives and friends.

    Mindanao is normally not hit by typhoon and floods in the past, so this is the first time this happened, a very devastating and sad first experience especially just before Christmas.

  10. Haha - history becomes myth sometimes because of communication transfer, much more when we are talking about past centuries. And this happened very early in human civilization

    eileeninmd - I was really stunned in Turkey seeing structures very early in human civilization. When we sea or hear about 15th or some centuries before we are awed, what would you feel when you see face to face structures thousand years BC? That is in Turkey.

    catmint - I love your comment. And i wonder how the spirits of those from St Nicholas time feel about us, of what we did with him in our time.

    Autumn Belle - it is more amazing when the tourist guides tell us the history of the balls hanging on Christmas trees! But yes, walking in the same spot these old folks were, bring something unusual to your psyche and cosnciousness. I even look for the unusual in stones, in walls, in rocks!

    Jennifer - I am really very much amazed with this knowledge too, and i just learned about the roots of St Nicholas when i was in Turkey. I thought he is from one of the Scandinavian countries.

  11. Betsy - I can relate to the magnitude of St Nicholas churches around the world, that happens to all the churches of saints. There are only a few saints so every church choose their saint, that is a Catholic tradition. They just name the churches with the saint of their choice, but they still have Jesus on top of everyone else, and He is the church.

    Rosie - I am actually very sorry as I didn't stay in Istanbul, i've just been to the airport. We were actually in Antalya, a domestic flight away from Istanbul, at the other side of Turkey. I really wish to have seen Hagia Sofia, Blue mosque, and Capadoccia. You should visit Turkey one of these days. It certainly is wonderful to see all the old structures meet the new!

  12. wow, what a fascinating post. i love this tour.

    did you know that i never knew santa claus as a child? i may have been over 12 yo when i first heard of him.

    merry christmas.

  13. Andrea how absolutely fascinating..I knew St. Nick was from Turkey but to see it all is wonderful...magical this post!!!

  14. Hi Andrea,
    Thanks for sharing this informative post. I did know the basic story about St. Nicholas, but this told much more. I loved all of your pictures. My oldest daughter was born on Christmas. I named her Nichole, with an h; after St. Nicholas. Have a very Merry Christmas.

  15. Great informative. Would love to visit those rock tombs.

  16. Great tour, Andrea! Merry Christmas to you too!

  17. wow, you've dazzled me with all of this enlightening information about St. Nicholas. Those tombs are extraordinary. I love all the rock. thank you for the tour through this lovely spot. and thanks too for stopping by my blog and saying hello. I truly appreciate it. happy day to you.

  18. Turkey is on my list of places to visit. After reading your post and looking at the pictures I'm moving it closer to the top. Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas.

  19. Photo Cache - am actually surprised about your revelation, as kids here are always fascinated by Santa Claus as he is from a very very cold far place! I am curious as to the thinking of your parents why they didn't tell you that! Maybe you should enlighten me. LOL

    Donna - you will be more awed if you see the old structures of Anatolia mix with the new ones of Turkey! You should try to visit.

    Jann Olson - you and Nichole have much more reasons to visit Turkey, trust me you will be awed by everything there! Merry Christmas too.

    Bridget - don't take a second thought in visiting Turkey, this is only a millimeter of the kilometers you will encounter there!

    Tina's Picstory - you seem the only one who likes the seashore, i wonder if you've been there!

    EG Wow - Happy Holidays and wishing you the best of the New Year!

    Ms Becky - the whole country is really dazzling and awesome, if only i can visit longer, i will not have second thoughts! Merry Christmas.

    Melanie - I suggest putting Turkey on the top, trust me, you will not regret it. I am not from Turkey Tourism Office, LOL. You should just be prepared of your IT because there's a lot to visit. Cappadocia should be a must, i haven't been there too! Merry Christmas.

  20. Thank you for your visit and kind comment on my blog. I have also visited Turkey and seeing your lovely photos brought back many happy memories.

    I have two posts about St Nicholas you may be interested in in my other blog:

  21. I enjoyed the tour and a very informative post.

  22. So much to learn and I am glad you had all the Santa info. I always wondered how Santa got in when there was no chimneys.

  23. Turkey is one place I would love to visit... should visit actually. An interesting account of St. Nick.

  24. Beautiful pictures, my favorite is rock tombs of Lycia The surprising. I like the light and the delicacy with which they are captured, gorgeous. Greetings.

  25. Thanks for the online tour of St. Nick's old church.

    Sad to see how Coca Cola took the idea of St. Nick and twisted it into a successful commercial emblem of consumerism.

  26. NixBlog - thanks for coming over and informing me of your post. My post is rather a spur of the moment spontaneous blog, thought later i should have included some more information. Anyway, i will heed now to yours.

    Carver - thanks for coming over too, and the appreciation.

    gardenwalkgardentalk - haha, that was our dilemma too when we were kids, but the parents are very creative in telling us how. We even have nights out watching the skies waiting for Santa, and the story of the constellations came handy.

    Jenn - you should go there immediately, while the old structures are still intact.

    Leovi - my appreciation for mentioning the lights in my photos. I am grateful, Merry Christmas.

    Solitude Rising - it's not only Coca Cola who is getting a big chunk of Santa Claus legacy. A lot of the big companies use him too.

  27. What a nice write-up on St.Nicholas.
    Didn't really know that he is from Myra, Turkey.
    How much the whole thing evolve that is now Santa from North pole.

    Have a Blessed Christmas & a wonderful New Year Andrea!

  28. Happy Holidays Andrea, Santa Claus was an exciting part of my childhood as well as my daughter's. Very interesting post. I am winding down from my project to start on getting my home ready for the holidays. I don't have much time though. LOL Sorry to hear about the devastating floods and Typhoon in your country. Take care and wising you a Happy and Healthy 2012

  29. whoa - those rock tombs are pretty amazing!!!

    University of Santa Claus - that's so incredibly funny to me!

  30. Thank you for sharing these interesting pictures and the information about Saint Nicholas. I knew some of his story, but I don't recall seeing pictures of his church before.

  31. St Nick comes from a fascinating place in Turkey... and lucky you got to visit! Super photo tour and narrative, Andrea!

    All the very best of the holiday season to you and yours! It's been delightful to cross paths with you here in cyberspace this year and look forward to more in the coming year!

    [In my post, that is my good friend's son.]

  32. Thank you for your historical post. The pictures do tell the story.

    St. Nick, where ever, you are give the world a gift of peace.

  33. I could tell that we’re on the same interest and obsession. Good to know someone I could share my ideas. Looking forward to know and learn some more from you. I'll be glad to share my own thoughts to you soon. Thank you for sharing such valuable articles. More power!

  34. Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones... I took the liberty to nominate your blog for an award... would appreciate your dropping by my blog...

  35. Hi Andrea,
    Just dropped by to wish you and your family the very best for the rest of the festive Season and a very blessed and healthy New Year ahead.
    And what a lovely treat to greet me... thanks for sharing such wonderful insights and photos about St Nicholas and Myra.
    Take care and God bless.

  36. Hi there, happy new year! Hope you are well!

  37. Andrea, glad all is well! It sounds like you have been very productive.....that will be me soon once I'm back:)


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