SMC religion professor tells how Santa got his start

SMC religion professor tells how Santa got his start

Children of all ages, take heart. Santa was a real person and, unsurprisingly, generous and kind to all. Kick off your holiday season by hearing about the man who became Santa Claus. On Friday, Nov. 30, at 11 a.m., Dr. Kris Pratt, Spartanburg Methodist College professor of religion, will give a talk titled “Saint Nicholas in History and Legend.” The event will take place in the Davis Mission Chapel on the SMC campus. It is free and open to the public.

Life wasn’t candy canes and bowls full of jelly for the real St. Nick, said Pratt. Nicholas, who lived over 1700 years ago in what is now Turkey, overcame the sudden deaths of his parents and being arrested during the Diocletian persecution of Christians to become a man revered for his many virtues.

“He was generous with his possessions, once lifting an entire family out of poverty with a secret gift of gold,” Pratt said. “During his life he was a respected leader of the early Christian movement.”

Pratt’s talk, which is appropriate for adults, children and elves, will focus on three stories of Saint Nicholas: the story of the Three Dowries, the story of the Military Officers, and the story of the Three Clerks.

“All of these stories show Nicholas’ concern for the vulnerable in society – the poor, the prisoner, etc. – as well as his generous spirit,” Pratt says. Images of Saint Nicholas will accompany his talk.

“Saint Nicholas in History and Legend” is part of SMC’s Interdisciplinary Series, which features performances, speakers and art experiences that enhance the liberal arts mission of the college. More information about the Interdisciplinary Series may be found at

Saint Nicholas

A fresco of Saint Nicholas in a Greek Orthodox Church.

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