Jolly old St. Nicholas

The real Santa Claus, thought to have been a participant at the Council of Nicaea and to have slugged Arius for his heretical Christology:

HT:  Mary Moerbe



Santa accused of promoting obesity

Santa is a bad role model for children and needs to lose weight, according to a wide-spread sentiment that has even reached the professional Santa community. A sample:

As the obesity epidemic has swollen, some public health experts have cast an increasingly critical eye on Santa's sprawl. Two years ago, acting Surgeon General Steven K. Galson said Santa's corpulence was setting a bad example. His remarks prompted howls of protest, with more than a few people accusing Galson of being politically correct in trying to make Santa physiologically correct.

An opposing expert opinion comes from Andrea Vazzana, a psychologist who specializes in weight management at New York University's Child Study Center. She says a svelte Santa "would be great for Santa, but I don't think children would benefit. The children who are believers in Santa, in that age range, they don't have a whole lot of say in what they eat."

Eating cookies that a billion or so children left for him would indeed put a strain on the waistline. Especially since he eats them all in one night.

UPDATE: In answer to Dan Kempin, a forensic reconstruction of the physically fit, non-smoking, fur-free Santa:

Jack LaLanne

What St. Nicholas (a.k.a. “Santa Claus”) actually looked like

Forensic experts have done their number on the skull of St. Nicholas of Myra and have reconstructed what this notable 4th century Christian–who slapped Arius at the Council of Nicea and was famous for his generosity to poor children– must have actually looked like:

St. Nicholas reconstruction

The thing is, he looks pretty much the way our cultural imagination thought he would look! I mean, dress him in a red suit and put a pointy cap on his head, and you’ve got our notion of Santa Claus!

OK, he lacks the ruddy complexion, but Myra is in present-day Turkey and St. Nicholas was a Middle Easterner. As for the white beard, this is an element in ancient iconography of St. Nicholas, so it is not unlikely that he had one. He also has a broken nose. Maybe Arius hit him back!

Click the link for details about how this research was conducted. Though some of the relics held by Catholic churches are spurious, some, such as the bones of specific saints, are well-attested. I’d like to see more of this sort of thing. Seeing what these folks looked like reminds us of the historicity of the Christian faith through the ages and that the great figures of church history were human beings who were not that much different from us.

HT: Paul McCain