Another tradition of Christmas time is Santa Claus. Most commonly associated with Saint Nicholas, an historic fourth-century saint. Many miracles were attributed to his intercession, and because of that he became known as “Nikolaos the Wonderworker.” He also had a reputation for secret gift-giving, which many conclude made him the model for Santa Claus. (Shown: St. Nicholas icon)
Further back in history, as far back as 45,000 years, we find another root for Santa Claus: a Paleolithic Siberian reindeer herder. Duncan-Enzmann tells of this character in Ice Age Language. The reindeer herder traded in reindeer hides, which are both warm and waterproof.
Whatever your tradition is this season, remember that a smile, a kind word, and a warm hug are gifts that money cannot buy. Whether you are young or old, warm or cold, winter solstice is the longest night of the year. It signals longer days, more light, and warmer weather, all encouraging new life. That is a reason to celebrate.