Well it’s Christmas and I got to Blog that, right? Let’s start with the fact that more than likely we got the wrong date for the birth of Christ. It’s more than likely August or early September. So how come? Well, somewhere in the early fourth century a group of Arian priests, an early Christian sect which was declared heretical in 326AD, went up into the what is today Germany to convert others. When they found that the greatest holiday was Winter Solstice, i.e. December 21-25, they offered the fact that it was amazing that Christ was born at the same time and the rest is history . . .again.
Now to, St Nicolas and or Santa Claus. For this we go to Turkey. Yeah I know, but bear with me. Turkey is the wellspring of Christian doctrine and dogma. Paul did lots of his writings here and even Peter stopped by. So get in the rental car and leave Kas, Turkey via the coast road going east to Demre, the ancient city of Myra. You’ll never find a better coast road for 'ah & oh' views. You go over a nice gentle mountain road skirt along farms where you get waved at and then the Med. shoves its deep blue nose in your left cheek for 60 or so miles. Down for a couple thousand feet and stretched out at your feet is Myra. There’s a wonderful Roman archway where the ancient walls use to be. Stop, it’s worth a visit, and so is the old harbor with the old docks and crumbled ruins of long gone prosperity.
Once in town, head for the main square and St. Nicolas’ church. Park, get out and have an ice cream cone or some great yogurt while I tell you about this really cool guy who lived here about 1700 years ago, a prosperous merchant in a town that had, had its ups and downs. There were plenty of poor people. Originally, he anonymously gifted poor families with wedding dowries. Well, come Christmas Eve, this dude use to go around delivering gifts to the poor. Usually food and a coin or so if the plight there was really tough. He became the bishop of Myra and died in 342 C.E.
And guess what? Sure . . . he didn’t want the town folks to know who was dropping gifts on them. After all, he wasn’t going to do this except on this one date. So he thought of a great idea. He climbed up on the roofs and dropped them down empty chimneys. Most of the time it isn’t cold enough for a fire. Even now. And so that’s how that goes. All the red suits and stuff like that came out of Europe at a much later date.
For those of you looking for Roman and Greek ruins, or heart stopping scenery, lazy boat trips, nude sun bathing, and the best fresh fruits and veggie you are going to get for a long time, go to Turkey. Oh, and you will also meet some of the best behaved, friendly, kind and interesting folks you’ll ever meet along the way. Istanbul is cool, but it’s a two or at the most three day town. Get down on the south coast, winter summer spring or fall and you will be totally blown away. I promise you.
Last of all, may each and everyone of you have a very Happy Holiday, a Great New Year’s Eve and may 2010 give you all a better taste in your lovely mouths. Until we go on a trip to the ruins on four continents, peace, love and above all GO! GO NOW! DON’T WAIT !!!