Who was the True Saint Nicholas?

By | December 25, 2018

[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.

Merry Christmas!


  1. https://www.biography.com/people/st-nicholas-204635
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

15 thoughts on “Who was the True Saint Nicholas?

  1. Georgie M.

    Excellent article today on leadership from the past that continues to echo into the future. We can see from this that good things do in fact reverberate throughout time.

    1. Greg Heyman

      Thank you Wilson! Yes, Merry Christmas to all.
      Great article today, Gen Satterfield on what St Nick was all about … generosity. If I recall correctly, you said that this was one of the main characteristics of leadership.

    2. Lady Hawk

      Thanks! Merry Christmas to everyone here today and to those who cannot be here.

  2. Len Jakosky

    Nicholas’s existence is not attested by any historical document, so nothing certain is known of his life except that he was probably bishop of Myra in the 4th century. That doesn’t, however, diminish his importance to the world and to the example he set for us all.

  3. Max Foster

    In Greece (as well as Albania, Serbia, and Bulgaria), St. Nicholas is celebrated on the eve of his feast day, December 5th. This day is known as Shen’Kolli i Dimnit (Saint Nicholas of Winter). In these cultures, this day is one of fasting, not gift giving. In fact, on this day, most people abstain from meat or fast completely or prepare a feast to eat just after midnight.

  4. Forrest Gump

    The history of leaving shoes or stockings out for St. Nicholas likely stems from the story of him leaving small bags of gold for a man and his three daughters. During those times women had to bring a dowry to a marriage in order to find a good husband.

  5. Willie Shrumburger

    The real man behind the fictitious modern day Santa Claus was St. Nicholas of Myra. Born in 280 A.D. in Asia Minor, he lost his parents at an early age, though they left him great wealth when they died. He was known for giving anonymous gifts to help those in need and was eventually made a bishop.

  6. Janna Faulkner

    I enjoyed the story of St. Nicholas and have been since childhood. More people should familiarize themselves with his generosity.

  7. Army Captain

    Appropriate and educational. Thank you, Gen Satterfield and Merry Christmas to you and your family. ?

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