[December 25, 2018] Leadership comes in many forms and we can learn from them all; including those that are legends. The story of Saint Nicholas is one of those legends that has influenced people throughout history and still does today. So, who was the true Saint Nicholas?
One of the many themes here in theLeaderMaker.com is that leadership means selfless service. Leaders put themselves behind the needs of others and have the welfare of their followers as a high priority. Saint Nicholas embodies selfless service and has become one of the most popular of all saints.
Born in Patara, a land that is part of present-day Turkey, circa 280, St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who helped the needy. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving grew. St. Nicholas transformed into the legendary character called Santa Claus, who brings Christmas presents to children around the world.1
There are many legends about St. Nicholas of Myra. One story tells how he helped three poor sisters. Their father did not have enough money to pay their dowries and thought of selling them into servitude (some versions say as prostitutes). Three times, St. Nicholas secretly went to their house at night and put a bag of money inside.
Saint Nicholas went through many transformations in America: becoming Santa Claus, and instead of giving gifts on December 6, he became a part of the Christmas holiday. In the 1820 poem “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Clarke Moore, he is described as a jolly, heavy man who comes down the chimney to leave presents for deserving children and drives a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer.
The cartoonist Thomas Nast added to the St. Nicholas legend with an 1881 drawing of Santa as wearing a red suit with white fur trim. Once a kind, charitable bishop, St. Nicholas had become the Santa Claus we know today.