Life in St. Nick's hometown
December 22nd, 2010
07:59 AM ET

Turkish town cashes in on Saint Nick legacy

By Ivan Watson, CNN

The hometown of the man who inspired the legend of Santa Claus is a long way from the snow and arctic lights of the North Pole.

The land Saint Nicholas is originally from rarely sees snowflakes - it is a village of palm trees and orange groves on the Mediterranean Sea in what is modern-day Turkey. Nicholas, patron saint of sailors and children, lived and died there nearly 18 centuries ago.

The legend of the 4th century bishop who gave gifts to the poor has spread since the earliest days of Christianity.
Eventually, Saint Nicholas evolved from the bald and bearded man depicted in Orthodox icons - dressed in long robes and clutching a bible - to the more rotund and secular character of jolly old Saint Nick.

Read the full story here about the real St. Nick and how his home town is cashing in.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Christmas • Holidays

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Frankly Speaking..

    Thank god this beautiful place aint set in the heart of a muslim town..Them muzzies! they should learn something from the turks!!

    December 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
  2. Reality

    More evidence that the fiction and semi-fiction writers had and still do have vivid imaginations:

    "Another legend[12] tells how a terrible famine struck the island and a malicious butcher lured three little children into his house, where he slaughtered and butchered them, placing their remains in a barrel to cure, planning to sell them off as ham. Saint Nicholas, visiting the region to care for the hungry, not only saw through the butcher's horrific crime but also resurrected the three boys from the barrel by his prayers. Another version of this story, possibly formed around the eleventh century, claims that the butcher's victims were instead three clerks who wished to stay the night. The man murdered them, and was advised by his wife to dispose of them by turning them into meat pies. The Saint saw through this and brought the men back to life.

    However, in his most famous exploit,[13] a poor man had three daughters but could not afford a proper dowry for them. This meant that they would remain unmarried and probably, in absence of any other possible employment would have to become prost-itutes. Hearing of the poor man's plight, Nicholas decided to help him but being too modest to help the man in public (or to save the man the humiliation of accepting charity), he went to his house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the man's house.

    One version has him throwing one purse for three consecutive nights. Another has him throw the purses over a period of three years, each time the night before one of the daughters comes "of age". Invariably, the third time the father lies in wait, trying to discover the ident-ity of their benefactor. In one version the father confronts the saint, only to have Saint Nicholas say it is not him he should thank, but God alone. In another version, Nicholas learns of the poor man's plan and drops the third bag down the chimney instead; a variant holds that the daughter had washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, and that the bag of gold fell into the stocking."

    December 22, 2010 at 11:02 am |
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.