Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! To celebrate Christmas in December, we will be looking at Christmas documentaries. This next documentary is about the Legends of Santa Clause. Richard Attenborough explores the story of Santa Clause. The story of Santa takes us around the world.
The search for Santa begins in Turkey. This area was the birthplace of St. Nicholas. He was unique even as a baby. Fasting on Wednesdays to Fridays. A church is named in his honor. A now-empty tomb is believed to have healing powers. He was elected bishop. It was unusual, a voice in the night told a member to elect him as bishop. He became the patron saint of children and sailors.
His most famous story deals with a man’s three daughters. The father had no dowry for his daughters. His oldest daughter offered to be sold as a slave to provide a dowry. The father prayed and all of a sudden money was thrown through the window. The daughters were allowed to marry. These stories gave Nicholas a legendary status. He became a favorite saint. Italian sailors smuggled his bones out of Turkey and built a church around those bones. Modern Turks celebrate Saint Nicholas and are proud that he came from Turkey.
During Roman times Saturnalia became a feast day for Christians. Gifts and light were part of the celebrations. It was the midwinter celebrations. The Puritans would eventually ban celebrating Christmas because such celebrations were not found in the bible. Assigning the Christmas season to December 25 was a compromise.
Our story then moves to Amsterdam. The city streets and Canals are lined up with people ready to greet Father Christmas. He was known as Sinter Klaus. Due to the Reformation, many Catholic traditions were banned. However, the children would not have it, because they wanted to have a feast. The tradition that started in the streets turned into a home tradition. On the eve of St. Nicholas Day. The children would put out shoes by the fireplace, in these shoes would be a list of the children’s wishes and refreshments. They put out water, carrots, and apples and would sing a song to call out to Sinter Klaus. They sing the songs so that Black Peter, a rival of Sinter Clause, would know that they were good children. Black Peter was known as a punisher of children. HE would put the bad children in a sack and would be taken back to Spain. The children would be kept in Spain for a year and would be good and obedient.
Now we go across the Atlantic and New York City. Manhattan had a vital role in creating Santa into a character that is now recognized around the world. Many Dutch immigrants settled in New Amsterdam, present-day New York City. They brought the idea of Santa, but none of the rituals. Santa was going to be reinvented. In the early 19th Century Santa was reinvented. Washington Irving wrote about the Dutch tradition of Sinter Klaus. Clement Clarke Moore saw this story and would eventually write “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”
This is a sweet documentary about the history of Santa Clause. You traveled around the world to learn about the origins of Santa. So this would be a good documentary to show in class studying legends and stories. This documentary had a good pace throughout the episode and it was a good exploration of Santa’s Story. If you had a sub in the classroom at the end of the year before Christmas then they could show this documentary in the classroom.
You can access the YouTube Documentary Here.
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