St Nicholas & Turkey
St Nicholas and Turkey
Walking around the Fethiye at the moment there is a very festive feel, including Christmas trees, decorations and Christmas fairs. Sunday saw the ever-popular Calis Christmas Fair, with lots of stalls selling delicious home-made foods, arts and crafts and a fabulous opportunity for charities to raise some additional much needed funds. After a night of terrible storms, the day was sunny, warm and attracted lots of people who all seemed to be enjoying the day. There was even an appearance from Father Christmas.
But did you know that Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas was from Turkey?
The legend has it that Santa Claus is in fact Saint Nicholas of Myra, a 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra (now Demre) one of the most important cities in ancient Lycia. Demre is approximately 150 kms (by road) to the east of Fethiye and takes about 2 ¼ hours by car. The journey along the coast road, via Kalkan and Kas, is simply breath-taking, albeit a little windy in places. So we’d suggest taking your time and soaking in the magnificent scenery.
Demre still has much magic to offer tourists with the main attraction of the town being the Church of St Nicholas. The Church was built in the 8th century from the stone blocks of an earlier church on the same site. It was then restored in the 11th century. It has beautiful features of wall paintings and floor mosaics as well as the tomb of St. Nicholas.
Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of Greece and Russia. His reputation is that of generosity and secret gift giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him. He was also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker because of the miracles attributed to him.
Saint Nicholas was born in Patara, to wealthy parents. According to legend, following their death in an epidemic, young Nicholas used his inheritance and dedicated his life to helping the poor and sick.
He died December 6, AD 343, Modern archaeologists believe that, following his death, he was interred in the rock hewn church on Gemiler Island, meaning “island of boats” (which may be a reference to St Nicholas’s role as patron saint of sailors – also know as St Nicholas Island by seafarers in the medieval period). Gemiler Island is an island located off the coast, just around the bay from Oludeniz, Fethiye and a popular stop with the many day boats that leave from Oludeniz in the Summer months. It is believed his relics remained there until the 650s, when the island was abandoned as it was threatened by an Arab fleet. They were then moved to the town of Myra/Demre.
6th December is St. Nicholas Day, or Feast of St. Nicholas and marks the anniversary of the death of the third-century Catholic saint who inspired the modern versions of Santa Claus………..