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Is Santa Claus The Original Grandfather

It may seem silly, but think about it. What is the ideal vision of a grandfather? A loving man, generous to a fault, full of deep wisdom so much so that he may even be able to understand his grandchildren in a way their parents can’t. Maybe that’s why the grandchildren are so comfortable sitting on his lap.

Is that so far away from what Santa is all about?

Santa originated as Saint Nicholas, a fourth century Bishop from Asia Minor. He made a name for himself by providing marriage dowries to three young, poor women which kept them from what would have otherwise been an inevitable life of prostitution.

He went on to even more impressive feats of compassion when he brought back to life three boys who had been killed by a butcher, cut to pieces and pickled in brine!

Maybe this is why he later became the patron saint of children and young women as well as of the countries of Greece and Russia.

In his later career (around the seventeenth century) he decided to go for a name change and a whole image make-over. He dropped “saint” for the more informal “santa” and Nicholas for its abbreviated version, Claus.

It’s around this time that he probably left Asia Minor (by now a Muslim country) and fled to the north pole as a political refugee. Naturally, he changed his garb to suit the climate. It was around this time that he took to giving out gifts to children on Christmas instead of his traditional feast day of December 6.

As Santa transformed through history from man to Saint to mythical “jolly old elf,” he lost his qualities of a normal person and gained qualities of an idealised being. But, Jungian psychologists suggest, this isn’t a random process. St Nick’s image was evolving into a child’s view of his ideal grandfather — the “archetype” of perfect grandfatherness.

This is our end-of-year issue, so in addition to our normal stories about dads, kids and fatherhood, we’d like to celebrate Christmas.

But also grandfathers. Because of what grandfathers represent — the spirit of extended family, of deep wisdom, of generous giving and grandfatherly love -what this season is all about.

Next: Drumming The Drums

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