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It is December 6: Santa Claus Comes Tonight in Hungary

The children of Hungary look forward to tonight, and the visit of Santa Claus or Saint Nicholas.  Each child usually St Nicholasreceives one or two items for Christmas.

The story of Santa Claus actually begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century 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 (like President Monson) was made a Bishop while still a young man.  Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, and his love for children.

The Roman Emperor ruthlessly persecuted Christians at the time, and Bishop Nicholas suffered much and was eventually put in prison.  After his release, Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD.  The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration throughout Europe.

One favorite story about Bishop Nicholas tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands something of value — a dowry.  Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries.  The bags of gold, when tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes (like they do in Hungary), eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.  Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold.  That is why gold balls (represented as oranges) are placed into the stockings.

In Hungary, the coming of Santa (December 6) and celebrating the birth of the Savior (December 25) are separated by several days. On Christmas Eve, the families gather together for a fine meal.

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© Copyright 2011 Our Hungarian Mission - By Bob and Brenda
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