The Christmas Saint


Liz Waid and Ryan Geertsma look at Saint Nicholas - the Christmas saint! But who was the real Saint Nicholas?

Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I'm Ryan Geertsma. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

"It was the night before Christmas,
When all through the house
No creature was moving, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there."

Voice 2

That is the beginning of a famous Christmas poem called A Visit from Saint Nicholas. Most people say the writer of this poem is Clement C. Moore. The poem describes a house on the night before Christmas. Nothing is moving, not even a small brown mouse. The family has hung socks, or stockings by the fire. Usually, they wear these stockings on their feet. But tonight, they hope that Saint Nicholas will come. They hope he will fill their stockings with sweet treats and gifts. The poem tells a story about a father who sees Saint Nicholas bring these gifts to his house during the night.

Voice 1

Many countries around the world have stories about Saint Nicholas. They are shared by many generations of people. These stories are legends. The stories are based on a real man named Saint Nicholas. Over time the details of the stories continue to change. The stories often explain Christmas traditions. But they are no longer real stories from history. Today's Spotlight is on the Christmas legends and stories about the real Saint Nicholas.

Voice 2

Saint Nicholas was born during the third century in a village near Myra, which is now in Turkey. His parents were very devoted to God. And they raised their son to be devoted to God too. When Nicholas was young, his parents died from disease. But he remembered the values his parents taught him.

Voice 1

Caring for the poor and sick is one particular teaching Nicholas remembered. In the Christian Bible, Jesus tells his followers to "sell your things and give to the poor." Nicholas felt strongly about these words. So he devoted his life to God. He gave away lots of his money to the poor. And he helped people who were sick or suffering. There are many stories about his secret giving. It is not clear if these stories are true. But they do demonstrate how much he cared for the poor. Spotlight producer Courtney Schutt shares one of those stories.

Voice 3

"A man had three daughters. At that time, there was a particular custom for marriage – a dowry. A father offered a gift to the man who wanted to marry his daughter. Without this gift, it was not likely for a woman to find a good husband. But the man was very poor. He did not have enough money for this custom. So he planned to sell one of his daughters. He thought if he did this he would be able to care for his other daughters.

Nicholas heard about the poor man's problem. He went to the poor man's house the night before the daughter was going to be sold. Nicholas threw a small bag of gold into the man's house. Then he left. In the morning, the man discovered the gold. With this gift he did not need to sell his daughter. Instead he was able to find a husband for his daughter. In a year, it was time for his next daughter to be married. But the man was still poor. Once again, Nicholas came during the night. And again, he threw a bag of gold into the house.

Finally, when it was time for his third daughter to get married, the man waited. He wanted to know who was providing for his family. For a final time, a bag of gold came through his window in the middle of the night. This time, the man was ready. He ran out of the house to see who had brought the gold. The person he saw was Nicholas. But Nicholas demanded that the man keep this knowledge a secret."

Voice 2

Over time, Nicholas became well known for his kind, generous giving. He was also known for his strong faith. So when the bishop of Myra died, the religious leaders made Nicholas the new bishop. As the new religious leader of the city, Nicholas continued to serve the poor, sick, and suffering people in Myra. Nicholas faithfully served as bishop until his death. In later years, religious people wanted to honor him for devoting his life to God and caring for people. So they named him a saint.

Voice 1

Many countries have created legends and customs about the secret gift giver. Often they have to do with children. Saint Nicholas considers how the children have behaved all year. Then, he gives them good gifts for good behaviour and bad gifts for bad behaviour. Often these stories explain some Christmas traditions. For example, in many European countries, children leave their shoes out for Saint Nicholas. They hope he will fill their shoes with good treats like the stories say. In countries that celebrate Saint Nicholas' Day, this usually happens on December 6. In other countries, this happens on Christmas day.

Voice 2

There are also other legends about Saint Nicholas. In Greece, he is not a secret gift giver. Instead, he is the saint who protects sailors. These stories are not as common. The details of the stories are not similar either. But it is said that in bad weather, sailors would pray to Saint Nicholas. Then he would appear to them like a dream. He guided them to safety. In some stories, the dangerous storms even went away.

Voice 1

It is not clear exactly when Saint Nicholas died. But it is believed that he died in the year 343 A.D. He was then buried in the city of Myra. Because of his goodness, many religious people travelled to the place he was buried. But during the 11th century, there was war in the area of Myra. A group of sailors used the war as chance to steal the bones of Saint Nicholas. They brought them to Bari in Italy. That is where Saint Nicholas is buried today.

Voice 2

If you believe the stories, then this religious man is the Christmas saint. He is the person that many other Christmas traditions are based on. In many European countries, he is only known as Saint Nicholas. In Italy he is San Nicola. In the Netherlands they celebrate Sinterklaas, a gift giver much like Saint Nicholas. In the United States, he is Santa Claus. And in Britain, he is Father Christmas. He has many names, but the idea of the person is the same. He is a gift-giver who brings good cheer at Christmas time.

Voice 1

But Saint Nicholas believed in a very different kind of Christmas gift. He believed that Christmas was a time to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ's birth. Christians believe that Jesus is God. They believe that he came to earth as a baby to live as a person. They believe that he knows the pain and hurt, the joys and happiness that all people experience. In this way, Jesus' birth brings hope to a broken world. For Saint Nicholas, Jesus Christ was the true gift of Christmas.

Voice 2

Do you celebrate Christmas? If so, what stories does your family tell around Christmas time? What Christmas traditions do you have? You can write to us on our website at www.radio.English.net. Or, find Spotlight on Facebook. Just search for Spotlight Radio.

Voice 1

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Ryan Geertsma. The voices you heard were from the United States. The poem and story in this program were adapted by Spotlight. This program is called "The Christmas Saint." We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!

Question:

Do you have stories about a gift giver in your country? Who is that gift giver?

Comments


Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on December 25, 2012

The important is that christmas is live in all world. Give and to share are actions of faith.

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georgino
said on December 25, 2012

Merry christmas to everyone
God help us to live in peace
And the faith in God continue more and more.

Blessing guys

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oleksandrk
said on January 09, 2015

In Ukraine Saint Nicolas comes before Christmas too. 19th December he comes. And We call him Saint Mykolai (Святий Миколай). He brings gifts to children for good behavior and twig for a bad behavior. We believe he was a miracle worker. Orthodox Christians in Ukraine honor him very much.