Tomb of original Santa Claus discovered in Turkey
By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
First the good news:
Whoever told you that Santa Claus was an impostor with a fake beard collecting a Christmastime check at the mall
or a lie cooked up by your parents to trick you into five measly minutes of quiet was, at minimum, misinformed.
The bad news: Santa Claus is definitely dead.
Archaeologists in southern Turkey say they have discovered the tomb of the original Santa Claus, also known as St. Nicholas,
beneath his namesake church near the Mediterranean Sea.
Saint Nicholas of Myra (now Demre) was known for his anonymous gift-giving and generosity.
People believed he’d put coins in the shoes of anyone who left them out for him on his feast day, Dec. 6.
As the story goes, he was a monk who gave away his hefty inheritance and instead chose to help the poor and the sick.
He’s also a patron saint of sailors and was, of course, especially fond of children.
(There’s one slightly bizarre story, more Halloween than Christmas, of St. Nicholas saving three children
who had been “lured into the clutches of an evil butcher.”)
He was so popular, according to History.com, that he survived the Protestant Reformation,
“when the veneration of saints began to be discouraged.”
It wasn’t until the 16th century that St. Nicholas began to take on his modern, candy-cane hued form in images and imaginations.
In Europe, he became known as Father Christmas.
He migrated to the Americas with the Dutch, who called him “Sinterklass” and
gathered every year on the anniversary of his death.
He started making appearances in stores in the 1840s, according to History.com.
The writer Clement Clarke cemented the American image of Santa Claus with his poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,”
which begins with the words “ ‘Twas the night before Christmas.”
Now, Santa is all but entrenched in the Christmas lexicon, the rosy-cheeked face of Christmas who is the subject of movies,
perennial parental lies and debates about childhood materialism.
Wootson writes for The Washington Post.