Today is Saint Nicholas Day. Alas, the only hard historical fact about the man is that he was Bishop of Myra. Legends clustered around him after his death. Although he is not on the list of attending bishops, he is said to have decked heresiarch Arius at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. His association with the giving of gifts is from this tale put in writing by Michael the Archimandrite in 1348.
10. There was a certain man among those who were recently famous and well-born, and he was a neighbor, his home being next to Nicholas’. Owing to the plotting and envy of Satan, who always has a grudge against those who prefer to live a life in accord with God, this man was squeezed by great poverty and lack of resources. He had gone from being well-off to extreme indigence. He had three daughters who were both shapely and very attractive to the eye, and he was willing to station them in a brothel so that he might thereby acquire the necessities of life for himself and his household. For no man among the lordly or powerful deigned to marry them lawfully, and even among the lower-classes and those who owned the least bit of something there was no one well-minded enough to do this. And so the man looked away from his salvation and, as it were, fainted at the thought of prevailing upon God with persistence and prayer. By this logic he came to assent to situating his daughters in the abyss of such dishonor. Continue Reading