Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Feast of St Nicholas

In spite of his widespread fame, Saint Nicholas, from the historian's point of view, is hardly more than a name. He was born in the last years of the third century in Asia Minor. His uncle, the archbishop of Myra in Lycia, ordained him and appointed him abbot of a nearby monastery. At the death of the archbishop, Nicholas was chosen to fill the vacancy, and he served in this position until his death. About the time of the persecutions of Diocletian, he was imprisoned for preaching Christianity but was released during the reign of Emperor Constantine.

Popular legends have involved Saint Nicholas in a number of charming stories, one of which relates Nicholas' charity toward the poor. A man of Patara had lost his fortune, and finding himself unable to support his three maiden daughters, was planning to turn them into the streets as prostitutes. Nicholas heard of the man's intentions and secretly threw three bags of gold through a window into the home, thus providing dowries for the daughters. The three bags of gold mentioned in this story are said to be the origin of the three gold balls that form the emblem of pawnbrokers.
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The story of Saint Nicholas came to America in distorted fashion. The Dutch Protestants carried a popularized version of the saint's life to New Amsterdam, portraying Nicholas as nothing more than a Nordic magician and wonder-worker. Our present-day conception of Santa Claus has grown from this version.


  1. Unholy Moly!
    So I wasn't expecting to be posting another Action Item so soon, but after today's Presidential announcement about Jerusalem and the decision in the House not to Impeach, turns out I have one.
    Congressman Al Green introduced a Resolution today to Impeach the President, but it was voted down by all Republicans and Democrats Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Hoyer, both of whom said "Now is not the time."

    Call Speaker Nancy Pelosi (202) 225-4965 and
    Congressman Hoyer (202) 225-4131
    to ask: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?!
    Are we waiting for nuclear war with North Korea? Are we waiting for the Middle East to explode? For Americans to die for lack of healthcare? For our tax system to fail the average American? We have already lost our standing in the world. By next November our nation will not be recognizable. What will it take?

    1. While you're at it, please call Congressman Green to thank him for offering his Resolution to impeach!!
      Congressman Green (202) 225-7508

      I called the offices of Pelosi and Hoyer. Pelosi's people put me through to a machine on which to leave my message. Hoyer's person was really nice, said they'd gotten a LOT of calls today, and said the Congressman had not yet shared with staff to say what he meant by "Now is not the time." I made sure to thank him for being there and hearing me.

  2. I got home yesterday morning. Still catching up on both sleep and things I am supposed to do. Parade committee meeting yesterday evening (called in rather than making the trip) and Democracy for America meeting this evening. Arrangements are essentially complete for us to sponsor a forum featuring all the candidates for state Attorney General.

    And alternative suggestion for the origin of the three balls traces it to the Bank of the Medici, whose founder (I seem to remember, but couldn't confirm on-line) had the nickname Malatesta.