Timothy Paul Jones answers:
Today, St. Nicholas is mostly known as a paunchy old geezer who spends one night each year breaking into people’s houses and stealing cookies before escaping to an Arctic hideaway where enslaved elves do his work for him.
Kind of creepy when you think about it.
The good news is that none of this was what the real St. Nicholas—a church leader named Nicholas of Myra—was known for.
The story of the real St. Nicholas won’t make any sense until you understand what was happening in the Roman Empire in the late third and early fourth centuries. So, before learning more about Nicholas of Myra, let’s take a quick look at three emperors, a Great Persecution, and a vision of a cross.
You can read the whole article here.