December 21, 2013

Letter to the editor: Tradition partly belies claims about race of Santa Claus

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly are claiming Santa Claus is Caucasian. They are partly wrong. Needed is a backtrack to New Amsterdam (now New York) in 1652, just prior to the English takeover of that Dutch colony.

On Dec. 8 each year, tradition called for a person dressed as St. Nicholas – a third century bishop from present-day Turkey and patron saint of children, pawn shops, students and sailors – to summon Black Peter (the devil) up from hell and make him carry a bag of gifts meant for good little boys and girls. The belief was that by making a bad person do good, eventually, that person would become good.

Lo and behold, Black Peter, dressed in red vest and leggings (garments common on Dutch docks of the time) – via metamorphosis, and with a little help from time and secular marketing – transformed himself into Santa Claus (Saint Nicklaus).

The real St. Nicholas, by the way, was reburied in Bari, Italy, by Italian sailors just prior to Turkey’s conquest by Muslim forces in the 12th century.

Robert A. Denbow

Saco

 

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