Today is the Saints Day for Nicholas, December 6th not only a special day for all the Nicholas’s and Nicola’s in Italy where Saints Days are celebrated by the namesakes, but also today for many other children in Italy this day is seen as the beginning of the Christmas festivities when they receive a present from San Nicola.
This day is celebrated in many different parts of the world, several countries within Europe including Italy, as the day when one of the most popular saints in history died in AD 354. There are many stories circulating about his life, but true or not there is certainly no doubt that this is the Saint that inspired the much loved character Father Christmas or Babbo Natale as he is known in Italy.
Saint Nicholas (270–6 December 346) was born into a wealthy Greek family and at a young age he devoted his life both to God and to assisting those in need. He grew up in a Greek speaking colony of the Roman Empire Myra, now part of Turkey, where he became a Bishop of the city. When he died his bones were placed in the cathedral of Myra which became a popular pilgrimage destination until 1087 when the Turks conquered the city and sailors from Bari rescued the remains and took them to rest in their own city.
He was well known for his generosity and acts of kindness towards others, especially children, according to Wikipedia he is the patron saint to a long list of different groups of people around the world. Children, sailors, fishermen, merchants, broadcasters, the falsely accused, prostitutes, repentant thieves, pharmacists,archers and pawnbrokers, what an interesting and varied selection!
The major celebrations in Italy for St. Nicholas (San Nicola) take place in Bari,Puglia where he is believed to be buried and is the patron of the city. Similar celebrations and traditions are observed in Sassari, on the island of Sardinia where he is also a patron saint of the city. One of the traditions carried out here is the distribution of gifts to young brides to be whose parents cannot afford to help them. This stems from the legend that Saint Nicholas once helped a man by providing dowries for his three daughters, so they could find husbands, rather than being sold into prostitution. In Trieste, St. Nicholas (San Nicolò) is celebrated with gifts given to children on the morning of 6 December and with a fair called Fiera di San Nicolo during the first weeks of December.
There has been an interesting development since Saint Nicholas Day 2009 as it has been proposed that his bones are returned to Turkey.
On 28 December 2009, the Turkish Government announced that it would be formally requesting the return of San Nicola’s bones to Turkey from the Italian government. Turkish authorities have cited the fact that Saint Nicolas himself wanted to be buried at his birthplace. They also state that his remains were illegally removed from Turkey. Apparently the town of Demre where the ancient town of Myra, once was has plans to build a museum which once constructed will exhibit relics of ancient civilisations. There is no schedule for these plans yet as far as my research found out, but the Turkish minister stated last year ‘that once built they would naturally ask for the remains of Babbo Natale to be returned from Italy’.
Buon San Nicola
Italian Male Variations of Nicholas: Niccolò, Nico, Nicola, Nicolò, Nicolas
Italian Female Variations of Nicola: Nicoletta, Nicla, Nicole, Nicolina
I researched the facts quoted in this post with thanks to Wikipedia
In case you are interested here is the link to the post I wrote for St Nicholas on December 6th last year St Nicholas Day Post for 2009
Christmas is coming to Marta the festive lights have gone up and many of the shop windows are seasonally decorated.
This is one of my favourites, unfortunately I was unable to get rid of the reflection of the car in any of the shots I took of this shop window.