Monday, December 15, 2008

The Man Behind the Legend

A variety of stories and legends exist regarding Saint Nicholas, (or Nikolaus, spellings vary). He is the patron saint of sailors, having saved a fellow sailor from drowning.

In another story, he takes pity on a man with three daughters who was too poor to afford proper dowries, (almost certainly condemning them to a life of prostitution). When each girl came of age, he secretly left a small pouch of money, (being too modest to help the man publicly). The third daughter's dowry was dropped down the chimney, in order to remain anonymous, (word got out that the father was laying in wait to discover his benefactor). Legend has it that the daughter had washed her stockings and had hung them by the fire to dry, and that's where the money landed.

The feast of Saint Nicholas is held on December 6th a day medieval nuns used to anonymously deposit baskets of food and clothing on the doors of poor families. In many countries Saint Nicholas' Eve remains the primary occasion for gift giving, remaining separate from the typical American Christmas celebration. (click on the image above and drag it to your desktop to use it as an ipod wallpaper).

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