Santa Claus and St. Nick are the English alterations of Nicholas of Myras name. Although little is known of his ancestry or the events of his life, except for his bishopric, many legends about him exist.
It is believed that he was born in Lycia in Asia Minor at the beginning of the fourth century to rich parents. Legend also has it that his parents died when Nicholas was young, leaving him heir to a large estate, which he promptly proceeded to give away to those less fortunate than himself.
As a young man, Nicholas became a monk, and was later appointed Bishop of Myra and one of the bishops who attended the first ecumenical Council in 325.
One of the most famous legends about St. Nicholas is that of three poor girls whose father could not provide dowries for their weddings. One cold night as they were discussing their fate and trying to resign themselves to being single, a purse of gold was tossed through their broken window. The oldest daughter used it for her dowry and was married. The same thing happened when the second daughter found a suitor. But when the youngest daughter received her purse, she chased Nicholas and baked triple-kneaded cakes for him that night, and on the same night each year thereafter she baked them and gave them to the poor in his honor. In many places these cakes are still baked on his feast day, December 6th.
That Saints fame spread soon after his death from Italy and Greece to all parts of the world. Thousands of churches are named for him, and children the world over love him and consider him their friend.