1. The name Santa Claus came from the Dutch name for St Nicholas: Sinter Klaas.
2. St Nicholas is thought to have been born in the city of Patara, now in Turkey, in AD 270 and died in the nearby town of Myra on December 6, 343.
3. He became Bishop of Myra, but was jailed by Roman Emperor Diocletian during the persecution of Christians from 303 to 306.
4. After being freed from jail, he is thought to have attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 at which the date of Christmas was fixed as December 25.
5. In many countries, including Belgium and the Netherlands, St Nicholas’ Day, or the evening before, is the traditional time for giving presents.
6. A legend tells of Nicholas restoring to life three children chopped up by a butcher to sell as ham.
7. St Nicholas is said to have left gifts in children’s shoes, which is the origin of Christmas stockings.
8. Nicholas is a patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, pharmacists, brewers and many others.
9. Nicholas was buried in Bari, but many of his bones were removed during conflicts in 1087.
10. Many churches now claim to have relics of St Nicholas from Italy to Ireland, Russia and the US.