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The character of Santa Claus was based on a real man named Nicholas. But Nicholas did not wear a red suit and fly with reindeer. Learn more about Nicholas in Nicholas: God’s Courageous Gift-Giver, a book in The Voice of the Martyrs’ Courageous Series for kids, available at The book tells more stories about Nicholas, who was later imprisoned for following Christ. The story below comes from the book.

A long time ago, about 200 years after the birth of Jesus, a little boy was born to wealthy parents in a land called Lycia. “Let’s name him Nicholas,” they agreed and loved him with all their hearts.

But when Nicholas was still very young, his parents died and left him all of their money. “I will use this to help the poor,” Nicholas decided and so began his life of giving to those in need.

It wasn’t long until he heard of a father with three daughters who were old enough to get married, but the father did not have enough money to find them good husbands. “What shall I do?” cried the father. “I am such a terrible father, unable to arrange proper marriages for my girls!” Left with no other choice, he made plans to send his daughters away to live in the streets.

Nicholas heard about this poor father’s trouble. “How can I help him?” Nicholas wondered.

So three nights in a row, while the town was fast asleep, young Nicholas climbed up the side of the poor man’s house and threw a bag of gold into the daughters’ room. Each night when the bag of gold hit the floor, it made a terrible noise, “THUNK-CHINK!”

Every night this noise would wake up the father and his daughters, until on the third night, the father stayed awake to meet this secret giver. As soon as the father heard the “THUNK-CHINK!” he grabbed the mysterious person and discovered he was just a young man.

“You cannot tell anyone what I have done for you,” pleaded Nicholas. The father promised he would never say a word. He sang for joy that Nicholas had saved his daughters from life on the streets and now he could find them good husbands.