Celebrating the real Santa Claus

The real St. Nicholas is far more interesting than the denizen of the North Pole we have all come to know. Born in Turkey, his parents died when he was a boy. He used his inheritance to feed and clothe the poor and became known for his devotion to Christ. He became the Bishop of Myra and continued to be known for his generosity. In an age when girls without dowries were often sold into slavery, he anonymously provided bags of gold for three penniless girls. The Dutch tradition of putting clogs out on December 5th and receiving gold-covered chocolate coins stems from this. Today, St. Nicholas is remembered especially in the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, with its focus on serving children in Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In addition to two hospitals and four outpatient clinics, the diocese sponsors ten schools in the region.