.- In an effort to encourage people to replace the commercialization of the Christmas season with a true devotion to Advent, Christmas and the “true Santa Claus,” several groups within the German Diocese of Speyer have initiated a “Santa-free campaign.”
The Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ) of Speyer has partnered with other organizations to champion the cause of St. Nicholas of Myra, a friend and helper of children and those in trouble. St. Nicholas, whose feast is celebrated on December 6, represents the good side of man: selflessness, charity and selfless service, the campaign says.
St. Nicholas who was a bishop in Myra, (now Demre) in Turkey, is known for his generosity and for his love for children. One of the most famous stories of the generosity of St. Nicholas says that he threw bags of gold through an open window in the house of a poor man to serve as dowry for the man’s daughters, who otherwise would have been sold into slavery. The gold is said to have landed in the family’s shoes, which were drying near the fire. This is why children leave their shoes out by the door, or hang their stockings by the fireplace in the hopes of receiving a gift on the eve of his feast.
Katrin Naab, chairman of the Diocesan BDKJ says, “St. Nicholas has nothing to do with the fictional advertising character with the red and white bobble hat.”
The “Santa-free zone” campaign includes a variety of posters, pins, an e-card, fair trade chocolate and an open air Christmas market, as well as Masses for children, youth, and families on the feast of St. Nicholas itself.