If you are among those led to believe Santa Claus was a fictitious concept dreamed up by adults to add a little extra excitement to proceedings every Christmas, then get ready for a surprise.
Because not only is Santa Claus an entirely real person but archaeologists also reckon they have discovered his burial stie. But anyone expecting St Nick’s final resting place to be somewhere close to the North Pole could be in for another shock; he’s been ‘found’ in Turkey, of all places.
Archaeologists discovered what they believe are the remain of Saint Nicholas in a church in Antalya’s Demre District. The remains were discovered after scans revealed a hidden chamber located beneath the floor of the church.
Nicholas was actually born in Southern Turkey, where the church containing his possible remains is located, but properly exploring the tomb could prove a tricky process.
The hidden room is located underneath a mosaic-covered floor which will have to be carefully removed as part of a painstaking excavation process. The Catholic Church also has a stake in the discovery given that Saint Nicholas is a fully-fledged saint and all.
Therefore, they will have a vested interest in any discoveries, which the Catholic Church will be eager to add to their own collection.
The true location of Saint Nicholas’s remains have been the subject of speculation over the years. It’s was previously believed that, after his death, Nicholas’s body was stolen by Italian merchants and transported to the Basilica di San Nicola in Bari, Italy. Bone fragments, purportedly from his ribs, even reside in a museum in the region.
Back in 1993, meanwhile, a group of historians concluded that Saint Nicolas’s body ended up on the island of Gemile in the Mediterranean after the remains of a Christmas pilgrimage centre was found there. They also discovered sailors used to the refer to the island as St Nicholas.
This discovery puts a spanner in the works of those claims but not every is convinced.
Carol Meyers, founder of the St. Nicholas Centre, told the Huffington Post “the speculation is very premature… If relics are found, they would need to be dated and examined by international experts. The Turks, of course, are very interested in promoting tourism. I’d be very reluctant to jump to any conclusions.”
Okay, so it’s probably time to admit that Saint Nicholas is a far cry from the Santa Claus we all grew up with – he never rode a sled, lived in the North Pole and definitely never dressed that red and white outfit – Coca-Cola actually invented that colour scheme to sell soft drinks.
He did, however, pretty much invent the concept of giving presents at Christmas. Born in a Turkish village to wealthy Greek parents, Nicholas was raised a devout Christian and, after being left a significant inheritance by his parents, decided to spend all of the money on the sick and needy.
Those good deeds led to Nicholas being named the patron saint of children, seaman, the hungry and a few other things besides. Tales of his good deeds – like actually dropping presents down chimneys for real – soon began to spread and the legend of Saint Nicholas was born.