From Odin to Sinterklass and Beyond

It’s quite a journey for Jack to track down myths, fables and reality all in the same search. Worldwide.

It started simply enough with the word Noel which derives from French. Christmas. It is also a woman’s name that means ‘born on Christmas’ German Langenscheidt or Das Weihnacten also translate to Christmas eve.

Searching some more brought up the actual celebration of Christ’s birth in Rome of 336 AD which turned into a festival until the 9th century. There is some strong evidence of the Dutch putting their oar in the water in 1773 to celebrate His birth.

So where does this Santa Claus myth begin? Perhaps we can go back to 2 BC and and the myth of Odin who was a bearded, cloaked man that traveled through the sky? Sounds like a precursor. Then we have the name of a real saint, St. Nicholas, a 4th century Christian Greek Bishop from Myra (Turkey). In the celebration of him in Europe, children got gifts on December 5th and opened them on December 6th .

So, the nations of Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and North France celebrated ‘SinterKlass who had a long white beard and wore a red cape and judged children about the naughty/nice thing. He became Santa in 1773, merging St. Nicholas, Sinterklass and the English, Father Christmas. Finally in 1823 ‘ A visit from St. Nicholas‘ turned into ‘Twas the night before Christmas‘. He was plump, jolly and dressed in a red suit and rode in a sled pulled by a reindeer. He slid down chimneys to deliver toys to well behaved children. There, that was easy now wasn’t it?

That’s the secular mixed with religion in festivals. How the naughty or nice thing started goes away back to philosophers and People who thought a lot about the who, what and why of existence. Not just to children though. We all seem to know somehow what the definition of being naughty or nice is don’t we? Except for hard core existentialists that believe whatever they say are those things. They are Rather naughty to put it lightly.

So with all of this preamble, how does this apply to us here and now? The Holy days, or some say holidays, are a time of celebration for all of us. How we celebrate is wonderful because we live free to do so. The lights, the tinsel and the socks on the mantle are pretty swell. The best part for Gator is the definition of ‘nice’ in his favorite history book. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” That sums up all the law and the being nice part quite thoroughly. Can we do it perfectly? Of course not. But we must try with all those things we have been given. Heart, Soul, Strength and Mind. It’s life 101. Simple and impossible it seems. One man did it right. He showed us how to live and how to love. You know him. Christ, the reason we celebrate. It’s pretty good. Jack Gator

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