The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born on March 15, 270 in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended theCouncil of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death (December 6th, 343) became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

There was a nobleman in Patara who had fallen upon hard times. Even though he had a noble rank and name his family had become quite poor. Now, this nobleman had three daughters, and in those days if a girl had no dowry she had little chance of being married. Woman had no options to work in the ancient world and so they would either be sold into slavery, or worse, prostitution. 

The nobleman worried greatly for his daughters future and prayed to god for deliverance. Eventually Nicholas became of the man’s plight and he came up with a plan. On the evening before the nobleman’s eldest daughter came of age ( by happenstance on December 24th) Nicholas stole into the courtyard of the nobleman’s home and tossed a bag of gold coins through a window. By chance the bag landed in a stocking that was hung by the fire to dry after being washed. The next morning the entire house was in amazement upon the discovery of the gold 

and the nobleman sang praises to God for this miraculous gift. Eventually the young woman was betrothed and married. Now when the nobleman’s second daughter came of age Nicholas did as he had done before, and again, all were stunned and amazed to find the gold in the morning. By this time the nobleman had begun to detect a pattern and resolved that he would remain awake on the night before his third daughter came of age and would determine the identity of his mysterious benefactor. Eventually, on the night before the third daughter came of age, Nicholas appeared as before. As he prepared to throw the purse of gold through the window, the nobleman stepped out from the shadows and demand to know who Nicholas was and why he was doing what he was doing. Nicholas strode up to the nobleman, and in a voice as quiet as a whisper and as powerful as a storm said “This is a gift from our Lord God. Accept it and tell no one how it came to you” Obviously the nobleman did not head the young saints advice and word of his generosity soon spread far and wide.

One tale of how Nicholas became the patron of children is told this way.

There were 3 young boys, students, who were traveling from Myra to Athens to study at the great university. Along the way they stopped for the night at an inn. In the middle of the night the innkeeper robbed them, murdered them and cut them into pieces. He place the remains in a pickling barrel in the cellar with the intent of selling them as hams.

That very night Nicholas received a dream from God. The Lord said to him “Nicholas of Myra! Arise this very night and go forth, for there is great evil in the land!” Nicholas awoke at once knowing where he needed to go and set off into the night.

In the morning he arrived at the inn. He kicked in the door, strode up to the innkeeper and said, “Where are those boys!”. The innkeeper feigned ignorance, “I have no idea of what boys you speak of”, he said. “Oh?, said Nicholas, already knowing the truth, “then perhaps we should have a look in your cellar”. The saint made his way down into the cellar and there in a dark corner he found the barrel. He tipped the barrel over and its gruesome contents spilled onto the floor. He raised his bishop's staff above his head and in a powerful voice said, “In the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. I command you to come back together and live!” With this he struck the ground with his staff and the pieces of the boys flew back together and the boys were alive again. At this the three boys and the innkeeper fell to their knees and converted to Christianity.

In AD 325 Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea, the very first ecumenical council. He had decided to make Christianity the state religion of the Eastern Roman Empire and sought the wisdom of the early christian leaders so he might understand the nature of the faith . More than 300 bishops came from all over the Christian world to debate the core beliefs of the young religion. These included which gospels ( of the dozens that existed) should be included in the Bible, what was the relationship between God and Jesus, and most especially the nature of the Holy Trinity. It was one of the early church's most intense theological questions. Arius, a Greek, was teaching that Jesus the Son was not equal to God the Father and was instead an avatar, a created being. Arius forcefully argued his position at length. The bishops listened respectfully. As Arius vigorously continued, Nicholas became more and more agitated. Finally, he could no longer bear what he believed was essentially profane hearsay from Arius .The outraged Nicholas got up, crossed the room, and punched Arius in the face knocking him to the ground! The bishops were shocked. It was unbelievable that a bishop would lose control and be so hotheaded in such a solemn assembly. They brought Nicholas to Constantine. Constantine said even though it was illegal for anyone to strike another in his presence, in this case, the bishops themselves must determine the punishment. The bishops stripped Nicholas of his bishop's garments, chained him, and threw him into jail. That would keep Nicholas away from the meeting. When the Council ended a final decision would be made about his future. Nicholas was ashamed and prayed for forgiveness, striking Arius was not a very christian thing to do. As Nicholas prayed during the night, Jesus and Mary his Mother, appeared to him. Mary placed upon him his bishop's robes. Jesus then gave him a scroll, the Book of the Gospels that had not yet been codified. Now at peace, Nicholas studied the Scriptures for the rest of the night. During the night Emperor Constantine awoke from a dream. In the dream God spoke to him and said, “Constantine, you must go this very night and release Nicholas of Myra from the prison and restore him to the council or it will fail!”. Constantine hurried to the prison, ordered the jailer to unlock the door and flung it open. There in the cell stood Nicholas wearing his bishop’s robes. The chains that had bound him lay broken on the floor. The book that Christ had given Nicholas had vanished! The Council of Nicaea agreed with Nicholas' views, deciding the question against Arius. The work of the Council produced the Nicene Creed, the core statement of Christian dogma, which to this day millions of Christians repeat weekly as testament of their belief.​