Saint Nicholas may not have had a round belly and a bright red suit, but he did have a white beard and was widely known for his generosity and kindness. Also known as Nicholas of Bari or Nicholas of Myra, the fourth-century bishop often brought gifts to the less fortunate and was responsible for many miracles. He is said to have appeared in the dreams of Constantine the Great to save innocent men from execution. Another tale, added to his legend in medieval times, tells of how he resurrected three children who had been pickled by a murderous butcher during a famine. These stories begin to explain why he’s a patron saint of the falsely accused and children (in addition to sailors, broadcasters, unmarried people, and more). Celebrations known as Saint Nicholas Day or the Feast of Saint Nicholas take place every year in December—independent of Christmas—to honor his legacy. When Dutch colonists brought stories and traditions surrounding Saint Nicholas to their North American colonies, their Sinterklaas, a legendary figure based on the saint, became Santa Claus to the English-speaking majority. Here are some places dedicated to the memory of the original.
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