Hey! Did you know that St. Nick is from Turkey? Random, but true! The legend of Santa Claus began with St. Nickolas, celebrated as Sinterklaas by the Dutch and then became Santa Claus as we know him today.
Born in 270 BC, Nicolas was born to a wealthy family and was greatly bothered by poverty as an adult. Legend has it that he would drop gold coins down chimneys to people who needed it during the night in the city of Demre, Turkey. He also gave nuts and treats to children and helped the sick and aging elderly in his town.
In late medieval England, on Saint Nicholas Day, parishes held Yuletide “boy bishop” celebrations. As part of this celebration, youths performed the functions of priests and bishops, and exercised rule over their elders. Today, Saint Nicholas is still celebrated as a great gift-giver in several Western European and Central European countries. According to one source, in medieval times nuns used the night of December 6 to deposit baskets of food and clothes anonymously at the doorsteps of the needy.
It wasn’t until the 20th century that celebrating New Years Eve became a thing to do! When Turkey transitioned from the Ottoman Empire into a Republic, they adopted the Gregorian calendar instead of the solar based Islamic one. This put December 31 as the last day of the calendar year. After the Turkish parliament made January 1 a national holiday in 1935, celebrating New Years Eve took on a whole new importance and many traditions were borrowed from Christmas and Thanksgiving from the West. For example, Baba Noel or Father Christmas, comes on New Years Eve to leave present under a Christmas tree. People also toast to a New Year and exchange small gifts at midnight between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Mom went over to Turkey one year at the holiday time and was amazed at hearing Christmas Carols in the malls and everywhere decorated just like we decorate but for New Years eve, not Christmas Eve.
Lastly! Don’t forget to buy your lottery ticket for the New Year!! It’s a tradition in Turkey try to buy a New Year’s lottery ticket because it promises a large sum of money to the winner.
If you win, don’t forget who gave you the tip! 😉