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Did you know that Santa Claus came from Turkey (and not the north pole!)

8th December 2014

Over the years, the true story of the origins of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus), have been long forgotten.

The popular mythic Santa Claus we see today with his white beard and red suit is popular throughout the world.

Saint Nicholas (more commonly known as Santa Claus/Father Christmas) was born around AD. 270 in Patara.

The story
'Noel Baba' as he is known in Turkish grew up in in Myra/Demre near Patara, where he lived all his life.

Nicholas was the son of wealthy Christian parents, who died while he was still young and so he inherited the entire family fortune.

His uncle who was the Bishop of Patara raised him. 

Nicholas was ordained as a priest and later was appointed as the Bishop of Myra.

He chose to dedicate his life and money to helping the poor people around him. The people of Myra were very poor leading desperate and miserable lives.

It is said that he had a reputation for secret gift-giving. He would climb onto the roofs of people’s houses and drop coins down the chimney or put coins into the shoes of those who left them out. Sharing his wealth with the people who needed it most.

He also gave children nuts, fruit and sweets for good behavior. 

Nicholas sold his house and moved into a modest dwelling.

He later founded an orphanage for the poorest children and a hospital for the poorly and unwell people and a nursing home for the elderly.

The 4th Century Saint died in Myra on December 6, 327.

A memorial was erected in the town dedicated to him.

It was many years later before he gained the title of 'Saint Nicholas'. 

A historic temple where his home stood, still exists today and is open for visitors. 

His church and ex-tomb are located in the Turkish town of Demre (known also as Kale, near Antalya).

On the 6th of December the church holds special celebrations dedicated to Saint Nicholas. 

Noel Baba Müzesi - Demre - ANTAL YA

Visiting Hours: 9:00 to 19:00 November to March 08:30 to 5:00 p.m. April & October ruins is open to visitors every day of the week. Santa Claus Museum Entry Fee : tl 10

Turkish traditions
Turkish people do not celebrate Christmas, however they are familiar with Santa Claus or Noel Baba in Turkish

It has been a long tradition in Turkey that Noel Baba would bring gifts to children on New Year's Eve.

Turkish people celebrate New Years Eve, pretty much like a traditional Christmas is celebrated: They will decorate their homes with lights, tinsel and adorn an indoor tree with various baubles and embellishments.

They have a roast Turkey dinner with friends and family, and give one another presents and cards. 


So, Saint Nicholas did not have a flying reindeer nor have magic powers. He was just a kind generous man who wanted to help people who where less fortunate.

After all, giving is the true spirit of christmas.



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