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Long before he lived in the North Pole ....

Santa Claus didn't always have long white whiskers, or big red suit. Long before he lived in the North Pole, and long before his yearly Christmas visits brought joy to all the children of the world, Santa Claus was a child himself; just an ordinary baby boy named Nicholas. His parents hoped for great things from their only son. They named him Nicholas, which means "hero of the people."

In the northernmost parts of the Norway, Nicholas' parents cultivated hempen for the King Christian IV of Denmark-Norway, who demanded Danish farmers grow hemp to supply his navy with rope. The duty of growing hemp was enacted into Danish Law in 1683, which states: "Every farmer who holds a full farm, and does not sow a bushel of hemp seed, and he, who holds half a farm, half a bushel, should by his lord be charged and punished as an obstinate and reluctant servant, unless he proves that he has no suitable soil therefore."

Nicholas was a kind and generous boy. He helped is father in the hemp fields, he stacked the crop, turned it into fiber, rolled into bales. He shared his meals with those who had nothing to eat, he was always the first to lend a helping hand, and he brought joy to young and old alike. There was no better friend to have than young Nicholas.

Nicholas joined the church. He gave special attention to the children of his village, and they were very fond of Nicholas for his playful and joyful manner. People called him the "Boy Bishop," known throughout the land as a kind and wise young man. Wearing a long red robe with a red hat, and he traveled on horseback. At every village, happy children would spot his bright robe from a distance and gather in the road to greet him. In one village, Bishop Nicholas heard the sorrowful tale of a poor old man and his three young daughters. It seemed the man could no longer feed his daughters, and he feared he would have to send them away. That night, while the whole village slept, Nicholas crept up to the hut where the three sisters lived. He climbed up to the rooftop to find the chimney. There Nicholas dropped three bags of gold, one by one, down through the chimney stack. Earlier that day, the three sisters had hung their newly washed stockings by the fireplace to dry. Each small bag of gold that Nicholas dropped fell into one of the stockings below. ...

People all over the world began to celebrate St. Nicholas Day. They hung their stockings by the fire the night before and awoke the next morning to find them filled with candy, fruit, nuts, or toys. St. Nicholas had left a magical gift at each home!

"Without Christmas in your heart, don't expect anything under the tree.”

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