Happy St. Nicholas Day. The true story of Santa Claus began in the village of Patara, Greece now an area of Turkey with Nicholas, born during the third century to wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian. After his parents died while Nicholas was still young he dedicated his life to serving God and eventually was made Bishop of Myra. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships. Today, we celebrate St. Nicholas day on December 6th to commemorate the day he died. Read more about St. Nicholas’s life on the St. Nicholas Center website.
The persona of Santa Claus morphed out of the tradition of St. Nicholas. You can read more about how that came about here. In the United States there is very little separation between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus for most people. In our home, we still keep St. Nicholas day a tradition.
My collection of vintage glass Christmas ornaments includes a number of Santa Claus and St. Nicholas ornaments. Many of them have issues; loss of paint, tiny chips and one is even missing his boots. Getting rid of an ornament when it breaks is difficult. I see the craftsmanship that went into blowing these little beauties then hand painting them. So, I will continue to hang these few ornaments on my tree each year with their flaws and still love looking at them.
While most of my ornaments are non-figural, most are delicate shapes that bring me such delight; bells, orbs, icicles, baubles, etc. The exceptions to my non-figural ornaments is my group of Santa ornaments. All are old. Some have lost details with lost paint. One is missing his feet. Some are much older than others but all delight me.
My personal favorite in this group is my Santa without feet. Look closely and you can see he originally had boots. This ornament without feet hung on everyone of my childhood Christmas trees. In fact as a youngster it became a bit of a joke between my siblings when decorating the tree. “Ok, time for Santa with no feet”…..”Hey, how can Santa get down the chimney without his feet?” etc.
The reason for not getting rid of this broken ornament is that this Santa’s face and body features are perfectly detailed…the mold used for this ornament has incredible detail. Just look at the designs on his fur, his mittens, his beard and mustache. Designs with details like this are sadly missing from many vintage ornaments and definitely from most current figurative ornaments. His little boots disintegrated over time as glass is known to do, thinning with age. As long as this Santa’s face and body continue to hang in there without cracks or fissures, this Santa will hang on my tree. I know the year will come when I open the box that holds this delicate Santa and I will find it in shards. I’m not looking forward to that day but I know glass is not forever so, I will enjoy this charming Santa while he lasts.
My Santa ornament collection hangs gaily on my tree delighting me and bringing Christmas cheer to all.