The secrets and origins behind St. Nick and other Christmas traditions


It’s time for Nick at nite

Santa bringing goodies began with the third century’s saint of children — Bishop Nicholas of Myra. Story: One parishioner was very poor, so St. Nick dropped a bag of gold down his chimney into a stocking hung by the fire. That bag being stamped Burisma is only a Republican rumor.

“Santa Claus” came from the Dutch name “Sinterklaas.” The eight schlepping his sleigh and ignoring a Tesla were what later inspired “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” in 1939 when a Montgomery Ward department store ad man created a ninth one.

Why poinsettias? Native to south Mexico and the Aztecs, our 1825 Ambassador Joel Roberts Poinsett sent them home to South Carolina where they still flourish and why we haven’t dandelions on our holiday table.

Poor Pepita knelt, placing its weeds at the Nativity scene. When they burst into flowers their shape and leaves were thought to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem, which guided the Three Wise Men — Bernie Sanders, Jack Smith and Alvin Bragg. Villagers believed them a miracle. Me, too.

Caroling began in pagan rituals. Then liturgical songs. Later centuries brought us “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “The First Noel” and “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen.” Uptight Puritans then rejected the early door-to-door wassailing because of big drinking, a little rowdiness and being barred from Zero Bond.

Legend says St. Nick once dropped a bag of gold down a poor parishioner’s chimney into a stocking hung by the fire. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Presents. Gift-giving came from the Three Wise Men, the Magi. Not sure how that started but the idea’s big with Bergdorf’s.

North Pole. This I don’t know. Too complicated. Heredity says St. Nicholas descended from Middle East immigrants. Like connections with (forget Mayor Eric Adams) Turkey — plus some old Teutonic bearded god Odin who rode through the heavens this time of year on a gray eight-footed horse. George Santos says that guy voted for him.

Christmas stockings began in 1823’s “A Visit From St. Nicholas” poem. Legend says St. Nick refused charity, stayed with poor people, heard their daughters were into bad things and decided to help in secret. Sometimes the story’s told that he gave them three gold balls — today’s symbol for a pawnshop.

Gift-giving actually started with the Magi, not the beloved St. Nick.
Gift-giving actually started with the Magi, not the beloved St. Nick. Getty Images

Tinsel. 17th-century Germany’s first holiday trees were embellished with this real silver pressed into strips. USA figured out aluminum and copper was cheaper and could be saved for the next year. Then came lead. Now it’s polyvinyl chloride. Next, maybe, shredded Florida governor photos. 

Of wise men

Born Christmas Day: Astronomer-mathematician Isaac Newton arrived 1642 in wherever’s Wools­thorpe, Lincolnshire. 1891, New York City, day after Christmas, brought author Henry Miller who once wrote: “Everything happened to me too late — even my birth.”

In the cards

MEANWHILE, remember your animals. Love them. Hug them. Kiss them.

And send season’s greetings cards. Like how about:

We mail our taxes

Some went to DC

They came back for hidin’

Through maybe a Biden.

All grown up

SANTA was originally depicted as an elf until 1931 when Coca-Cola ads pictured him human-size.

And where else would you hear this except only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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