Santa Claus did live in Turkey.  Though it’s not the same Santa Claus, you think it is.

What great memories of childhood are conjured up when remembering this fat jolly man, his elves, and the flying reindeer and of course those huge big sacks full of presents.  Every year around Christmas time, millions of parents across the world take part in the largest deception concerning Santa Claus.  The story usually starts in the early years of a child’s life when the parents threaten [in a gentle way of course] that Santa will not drop down the chimney with presents unless you have been good.  Well, that was it, I was doomed never to receive a present.  It never occurred to me to answer back that we had no damned chimney.  Luckily the Santa Claus in our lives had a bad memory as I did receive presents every Christmas!

As we grew older, the cold hard truth was delivered, by misguided parents who confessed to their children that Santa Claus was not real and that he is just a fun part of Christmas.

Devastating to a child to hear those words.  Myself included.

Well, they were incorrect, he may not be alive now though he definitely was a very real person, not the jolly fat man with the flying reindeer from the North Pole, with those hard working elves version.

How did this St. Nicholas become a North Pole-dwelling bringer of Christmas gifts? The Saint Nicholas I am referring to was a Greek born 280 years after Christ who became bishop of Myra, a small Roman town in modern Turkey. Nicholas was neither fat nor jolly but developed a reputation as a fiery, wiry, and defiant defender of church doctrine during the “Great Persecution,” when Bibles were put to the torch and priests made to renounce Christianity or face execution. As they say, only the winners write the history.  Read more facts about this man  HERE.

The one thing I love about St Nicholas is that he was a defender of children, and become the Patron for children and was also the patron for fishermen.

Back to mid-June 2017.  The day we chose to visit was a rather solemn sort of day.  This was due to hearing not great news of the Squires father.  Which is still ongoing.  We had already planned on visiting the only Orthodox Catholic church ruins that are left in Turkey.  Even though we are not religious, it did feel the right sort of place to be and contemplate the life of past and present.  So in this place of historical signification and holiness, we shed a few tears for a man who was not in good health and who obviously is dear to the Squire.

With our thoughts of the Squire’s Dad, we slowly walked around this amazing ruins of a church that in its heydey would have been extraordinary and the people who worshipped and lived here have had many created so many traditional stories and legends that still mean so much to so many people in our present day lives.

Located in the town of Demre (far away from the North Pole!), the church is open every day, and on the 6th of December, special celebrations are held on the day dedicated to Saint Nicholas. It is also the church which holds his original sarcophagus although his bones were stolen in the 10thcentury by Italian sailors and they are now encrypted in a church on the south-east coast of Italy.

20170617_124910_editedWith the sun shining into the church and with people silently chanting close by it seemed a very surreal experience.  20170617_124109_editedThere was not many indicates of what these were, though we got the impression it had been some form of altar.20170617_124032_edited20170617_125754_editedThe ceiling and wall artefacts were extraordinary to see.20170617_125019_edited

Another statue outside the church depicting St Nicholas

We gained an excellent insight into the humble beginnings of the man who would later be known as Santa Claus.  Just don’t forget to share the real story of the extraordinary man whose name was known as St Nicholas.