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While the legend of St. Nicholas extends all over the world, the "real" St. Nicholas lived in Turkey! St. Nicholas was the bishop of an area called Myra, located in southwestern Turkey, during the early fourth century. While the details of his life are sketchy, it is known that he did many good deeds involving both children and sailors. A study of medieval and Renaissance artwork find this image appearing in a number of paintings, stained glass windows and carvings. The composite "look" of these many works of art shows St. Nick to be a tall, dignified man. Unlike the jolly American Santa with his smile and "ho, ho, ho," the Turkish St. Nicholas was quite serious...even severe. His fame grew as the centuries passed, and he bacame established as the patron saint of chil- dren, unmarried girls and sailors in both the Roman and Orthodox churches. His original feast day was December 6, but eventually it was moved to December 25 by Pope Julius I to celebrate the birth of Christ. St. Nicholas lost popularity during the Reformation, except in Protestant Holland, where Sinter Klass filled wooden shoes with gifts. Today both in Turkey and around the world, St. Nicholas has been re-estab- lished as one of the most powerful symbols of Christmas.
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