Was Santa Claus a Turk?

Saint Nicholas, known as Santa Claus, was born in Patara, an important Lycian city on the Mediterranean coast of our country. While Patara was living well into the 300s AD, a rich merchant had a child. They called him as Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas came to the world as a gift from the sky and savior of the poor. It is believed that Nicholas brought miracles to the water even when he was younger; that is, Even when he was a boy, he could do wonders.

Legend has it that Nicholas is under the debris because he was buried during a collapse that happened during construction. While his mother was crying and screaming, Nicholas got out from under the stones. After a while, his father left and Nicholas became the sole heir of a great fortune. While Nicholas was doing relief work for charity, a rich man became bankrupt and could not even make the dowry for his daughters. Eventually, the father decided to sell his daughters. While this family was asleep, Nicholas threw gold for the dowry through the windows, and this is how Nicholas’ story of giving gifts began. In fact, there are many more stories about Saint Nicholas.

Was Santa Claus a Turk?
Frescos in the Saint Nicholas (Santa Clause) church in Demre, Turkey. It’s an ancient Byzantine Church.

Today, Santa Claus is a legendary person who leaves gifts for children by sneaking into homes on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus makes toys for children in different colorful, beautiful models. After reading letters sent to him by children, Santa Claus brings the type of toys that they want most, to make their dreams come true. Santa Claus must undertake a long journey in his gift-filled sleigh, pulled by reindeer. He sends toys down chimneys of all the houses and takes as a treat milk and cookies that the children leave for him on the hearth. Santa wears a red robe and people picture him as gray-haired, with a fat belly, big smile, pink cheeks, and a long grey beard.

Was Santa Claus a Turk?
Interior of the St. Nicholas Church (Santa claus) in Antalya (Demre) Turkey.

The Santa Claus church was built when Saint Nicholas died, at age 65 or so. This church is in Antalya. Santa Claus’ death was kept secret for a while, then, his bones were stolen by traders and moved to Bari. Many tourists from all over the world visit Santa Claus Church every year, along with the Santa Claus Museum.

A look at history demonstrates that the legend of Santa Claus comes from Turkish territory. And a person from a Turkish territory will carry on the Turkish culture. At his time, there were not clothing innovations such as pants and caftans typically used in the West in more modern eras. Saint Nicholas, though, wore both a red caftan and pants. These clothing types, which Turkish culture has brought to other societies, prove that Santa Claus could also be a Turk.