Leigh Hatts  

St Nicholas Day: Father Christmas or Santa?

Dutch St Nicholas stamps

The National Trust has decided to be consistent by maintaining the name Father Christmas rather than Santa.

The Trust has been under fire for issuing the guideline to staff across its many sites.  As body with high standards it is correct.

The seasonal figure has been known in England as Father Christmas since Tudor times.

When he arrived for the first time in a department store, Beales of Bournemouth, in 1885 he was called Father Christmas.

The year before at Macy’s in New York he had been announced as Santa Claus. That is his American name derived from St Nicholas.

St Nicholas Day is today, Wednesday 6 December.

At least the National Trust did not stage Father Christmas appearances until this month. In the old days he was never seen in November.

Today there will be  a ceremony in a church at Demre in Turkey where Nicholas was buried in 342.

In 1089 his remains were moved to Bari in Italy where today there will be crowds visiting, a procession and fireworks.

There are many churches in England dedicated to Nicholas and Exeter Cathedral once had a relic brought from Demre.


Parish Clerks’ Company banner depicting St Nicholas and a miracle

This evening at 5.15pm the Company of Parish Clerks in the City of London will gather at St Sepulchre’s for a service of Holy Communion on their patron saint’s day.


Boy Bishops used to be installed today. Salisbury Cathedral does so next Sunday when a choirboy is dressed as a bishop during evensong at 4.30pm.

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