Today is the yearly feast of Saint Nicholas, Bishop and Confessor, and Cannonized Saint of the Catholic Church.
Here is a little history about the real Santa from the "New Roman Missal by the Reverend Fr. F. X. Lasance 1937.
St. Nicholas Archbishop of Myra in Asia Minor, from the childlike innocence of his own life, and his devout care for the young, is looked upon as the patron of children. He died in the middle of the Fourth Century, and seven hundred years later his holy relics were translated to Bari in Italy. Because of the power he exercised over flames, we pray that through his intercession we may be preserved from the flames of hell. He is remembered for the money which he threw in a window that three young girls might have a dowry for their marriage. Because of this gift his name has become associated with giving and children thank Santa Claus (or St. Nicholas) for their presents at Christmastime.
And from the Lives of the Saints, by Omer Englebert, 1951
Few saints enjoy such great popularity and few are credited with so many miracles. Sts. John Chrysostom, Peter Damian, and Bonaventure have vied in eloquence with one another in telling of the merits and the goodness of Saint Nicholas. Born at Patara in Lycia, he visited the Thebaid, ruled the great monastery, was imprisoned for a time for his faith, and ended his life as archbishop of Myra.
It is doubtless the story of his restoring life to the children put in the salting tub which caused him to become the patron and the annual benefactor of school children. St. Bonaventure tells the story in a sermon. St. Nicholas was, it seems, on his way to the Council of Nicaea, when he entered an inn whose owner, not content with having killed two young boys for the sake of their meagre purse, had cut them up and was about to sell them piecemeal to his clients. The bishop restored them to life and then converted this murderer.
Another famous tale is that of the three marriageable girls who did not succeed in getting married. Poor and not knowing what to do with them, their father was about to put them into a house of ill fame. Nicholas took advantage of the fact that this odious man slept with his window open, to go one night and throw a purse filled with gold into his room. A few days later, the eldest daughter was married. In the same way, Nicholas delivered to the second the dowry she needed. Soon she, too, found a husband. The saint was discovered at the moment when he was throwing up from the street the purse destined for the third. The father, who had been hiding in the shadow, recognized him; he fell at his feet, weeping in penitence and gratitude, and from then on did not cease to sing his praises everywhere.
So the tradition is based on real events about a real person who set an example of generosity, morality, and giving for all of us to follow. Pray to him and ask him to obtain for you what you really need both in temporal and especially spiritual gifts.
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