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Father Christmas

HOW DID the story of Father Christmas evolve? Everywhere pictures abound of the old man with a long white beard, red coat and bags of toys who has become the human face of Christmas. He brings presents either on December 6, St Nicholas’ Day or the night before Christmas. But who was he?

He is based on St Nicholas, which explains his other name Santa Claus which comes from the Dutch Sinterklaas. Nicholas was a Christian leader and Bishop from Myra (in modern day Turkey) in the 4th century AD. He was very shy and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it.

It is said that one day he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in the stocking which a girl had put to dry by the fire! This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children’s stockings. More fascinating facts of how the kindly Christian saint became a roly-poly, red suited American symbol for merry holiday festivity and commercial activity can be found on www.stnicholascenter.org

There is an exciting opportunity to see Father Christmas opening the NETWORK Christmas Fayre at the Hotel Garbe at 11am on December 1. Just follow the Penguin Trail to find him in his Grotto. All proceeds will go to Castelo dos Sonhos helping to provide for the needy at Christmas time. Also this year, for just five euros, you, your children and grandchildren will be able to have a photo taken with Father Christmas and printed on the spot by John Oliver. (www.johnoliversphotography.com) with a one euro donation made from each print to Castelo dos Sonhos.