I AS AN EX-WITCH WHO SPENT YEARS DECEIVED IN THE OCCULT MINDSET, I AGREE 100% WITH THE INTENT OF THIS ARTICLE-GO FOR IT CHURCH!
OBJECTIVE: Halloween Reclamation
Turn to OBJECTIVE for an objective Christian perspective
With Dr. Troy Franklin
Starting this year, witches are out and Jesus is in! Reclaim Halloween in the name of Jesus! (Artwork by Peggy Miller)
While many Christians correctly see Halloween as a time of occult dangers - when Satan is out in force trying to corrupt our society -
they overlook the fact that all things are [ALLOWED] by the Lord for a purpose.
So what is the purpose of this dark time of the year?
Starting this year, witches are out and Jesus is in!
Reclaim Halloween in the name of Jesus! (Artwork by Peggy Miller)
At what other time of the year do throngs of unsaved children come to your door, begging for you to give them a treat?
Why not use this unique opportunity to give these deprived children the best treat of all - the treat of Christ's Love and eternal Salvation?
Jesus Himself preached to the whores and money changers, the very people most in need of his Love.
These unsaved trick-or-treaters - innocent children tricked by secular society and their non-
Christian parents into participating in occult rituals - are exactly the ones in need of the Good News of Christ.
And there they are, right on your door step!
Clearly the Lord has created Halloween for the purpose of bringing the would-be-damned to us, His loyal followers, at an early age so that we may help them on the way to Salvation.
So, in fact, this is not merely an unexpected opportunity, it is an obligation that we as Christians must rise to. Halloween isn't the witching season, it's the witnessing season!
Just because the forces of the occult falsely lay claim to some of God's creations doesn't make them any less God's creations. (Artwork by Peggy Miller)
Halloween: Orgy Of The Occult No More!
We as Christians can learn from the dentists: instead of seeing Halloween as a time awash in tooth-decaying decadence, dentists have used it to promote proper dental hygiene by handing out toothbrushes, floss, and sugar-free candy to children.
They have taken a frown and turned it upside down.
Just because the forces of the occult falsely lay claim to some of God's creations doesn't make them any less God's creations.
It is important that we acknowledge that there are certainly lots of anti-Christian activities that go on during Halloween, including obvious and blatant things such as the reveling in demonology but also subtly subversive things such as "bobbing for apples", which is really a symbolic re-enactment of the Fall.
These things are dangerous and need to be opposed by all good Christians. However, some of the traditional trappings of Halloween are not really occult.
Bats, black cats, and spiders are all God's creatures too and skeletons are God's way of supporting your body; do not let ancient superstitions - whose origins are actually Pagan - keep you in fear of His creations.
Whether real occult dangers or misappropriated trappings, we must not let these put us off and cause us to retreat into our homes, turn off the lights, and pretend we are not home when the doorbell rings.
No, we must face the anti-Christian challenges and vanquish them with the help of the Lord. We must take the fright and set it aright!
Just as the winter solstice -
which was created by God, not demons - was reclaimed from the villanous grip of the Pagans in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we as Christians must reclaim Halloween.
We must proclaim that Halloween is now Christ's holiday. From now on it shall be used to witness to the wicked and ignorant.
What was once used by Satan as a recruitment program, shall now be used against him. Satan's tricks shall be turned into the Lord's treats!
How To Hallo-Witness:
This Halloween, what you as a Christian need to do is Hallo-Witness.
What is Hallo-Witnessing? I define Hallo-Witnessing as using the tools of Satan against him; taking the trappings of Halloween - the things the kids enjoy about it - and using them to show the kids the Truth of Christ.
Some examples of Hallo-Witnessing techniques are:
Hand out Bible tracts not candy -
Everyone loves candy, but it doesn't really provide nourishment - for the body or the soul.
Instead of handing out candy to the trick-or-treaters, why not give them something a little meatier?
Why not give them Bible tracts!
"Bazooka Jesus", one of the many quality Christian evangelical candies available commercially. (Click to enlarge photo.)
Bible tracts can be gotten for modest donations from many Christian publishers.
You can also download them off the Internet for free and print them out.
Or, If you are really inspired, you can make your own, individually personalized for each child in your neighborhood!
This is a good way to address the individual spiritual needs of your neighbor's kids.
"Bazooka Jesus", one of the many quality Christian evangelical candies available commercially.
Bible promoting literature can come in many forms besides just tracts.
Some forms will actually work better with today's short-attention-spanned secular youth. One of the best Hallo-Witnessing tools you can use is candy with Scripture or pro-Jesus messages printed on the wrappers.
These work great because they give the child what they expect from Halloween - sweet candy - while also providing them with a dose of Christ.
This will help create in the child a positive association with Christianity, countering the anti-Christian indoctrination rampent in secular society. It can also be less threatening to the Christ-adverse child.
For instance, "Bazooka Jesus" brand chewing gum (available at finer Christian supply stores) looks outwardly like popular secular candy, however on the inside of the wrapper are Bible inspired cartoons that open the secularized or occultified child's mind to the Lord.
Also, don't underestimate the spirit raising power of simple symbolic candies, such as candy crosses or chocolate Jesus fish.
Sources for hand outs:
Halloween Outreach - Keep the porch light on and expose the darkness by sharing the light!
Offers an assortment of witnessing cards for handing out that have a place to attach candy. They also offer a magazine with tips on how to "treat and tell" and prayer-walking.
Scripture Candy - Makers of Fish Mints™, the mint shaped like the Jesus Fish, as well as a wide selection of candies with Scriptural wrappers.
The company was founded to turn the pagan holiday of Halloween "into something to glorify GOD".
Testamints -"The mint with the Message". Also available in fruity and sour flavors kids love.
EvangeCandy -The only candy with color-coded Gospels on every wrapper! Also available in EvangeCane form.
From the makers of the EvangeCube and the J-Cube clip-on tract dispenser with collectable J-Trax.
WWJD.com -The official site for WWJD gear and supplies.
WWJD bracelets make great hand outs that remind children to do what Jesus would do!
American Tract Society -Wide variety of Bible tracts, many with themes designed to attract the attention of secular children (featuring Reggie White, Toy Story, Pokemon, etc.).
Some available for free if you have trusted Christ as your Savior
Redemption -An action-packed Biblical trading card game. Buy a pack and hand out individual cards, kids will trade them and learn all about the Bible!
Educate through costumes -
The unsaved youths today with their Power Rangers and Peekachoos and other secular heros they see on TV are very enamored with "make believe" and "role playing".
This is one of the reasons that Halloween keeps getting more popular every year since it allows them to dress up as their heros.
Satan uses these seemingly innocent secular costumes (often cheaply purchased in local retail stores) as gate-way costumes for the more blatantly occult garb: witches, monsters, demons, Darth Mauls, and the like.
"BOO! I'm John the Baptist, and these are my many exciting exploits..."
Often, secular and pagan adults who hand out candy participate in this costume ritual as a way of further indoctrinating the children into the occult world-view.
The principle of Hallo-Witnessing tells us that we Christians should do this too.
However, instead of dressing up in occult costumes, we should dress up as historical persons from the Bible. When the children ask you who you are supposed to be, you can use that as an opening to teach them about the Lord.
You can involve your whole family by creating costumed plays dramatizing the historical events in the Bible that you can perform for the unsaved children at your door, or perhaps just simple monologues given in-character as Moses or John the Baptist.
(However, while dressing up as Biblical individuals is a good way to teach about the true history of the Bible, common sense and moderation should be heeded.
For instance, it would be inappropriate to appear at your door as pre-Fall Adam or Eve or as a Sodomite.)
Another option is to appropriate traditional costumes. For instance, a white sheet with eye-holes worn over one's head isn't an occult spirit, it's the Holy Ghost.
Write "HG" on the front and when the kids ask what that means, explain to them the subtle mystery of the Trinity; it will "blow their minds".
Even if you decide you do not want to wear costumes, remember: the forces of the occult may put on rubber masks and polyvinyl smocks, but when we Christians teach about the Lord, we put our full armor on!
Sources for Biblical costumes:
Peggy Miller has made this delightful mask of her famous Lambuel character, perfect for your children to wear when greeting trick-or-treaters together as a family.
It can also be used as an inexpensive handout for the trick-or-treaters you've converted who wish to replace their evil masks before going back out into the streets to spread the Good News to their friends and neighbors.
Joyful Costumes - A Christian performing arts company that also sells Biblical costumes. Be sure to check out Jesus's every day outfit!
Church Drama Catalog - Rentals, beards, and makeup
Charm City Rags - Offers Biblical era costumes Church Drama Catalog - Rentals, beards, and makeup
Biblical Themes - Many costumes and accessories, including a comfortable latex crown of thorns
Encourage the kids to spread the Good News - However you decide to Hallo-Witness, make sure you tell the kids to pass it on.
Give them extra copies of Bible tracts to trade with their friends at school (that's one way to beat the prohibition on God!).
Make a point to suggest to the kids that they tell their friends what great stuff you are handing out.
Many kids today carry cellphones and pagers so they may contact their buddies right away!
Enlist the support of your Christian neighbors -
Share your faith with carved vegetables. (Click to learn how.)
Share your faith with carved vegetables Don't try to reclaim Halloween all on your own!
It will be much easier and more spiritually rewarding to do it working with your fellow Christian neighbors.
Work together to come up with a game plan so that you aren't all handing out the same Bible tracts or confusing the unsaved with unintended mixed messages.
If you do this you can really maximize the impact of the Hallo-Witness experience for the unsaved.
With today's hectic schedules, it may be impossible to set up a planning meeting with your Christian neighbors, but you still want them to know that you are Hallo-Witnessing.
What can you do? One way to let your fellow Christians know that you are offering a Christ-friendly Halloween experience by displaying a Jesus-o-lantern (a hollowed pumpkin carved with a cross).
Not only will your neighbors see it, but any Christians visiting your neighborhood with their kids on Halloween will know that your house is a safe one to let their children go to.
Be creative! -
It's all about getting the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ out to the unsaved children in your neighborhood, so pull out all the stops and make it a Halloween they'll remember for an eternity!
Some of my fellow Christians have questioned whether Hallo-Witnessing is a good idea.
Their main concerns are that some Christians might mistakenly embrace the darkness of Halloween in their attempts to reclaim it.
While there is always a danger of Satan tricking us mere mortals into buying into his lies, that is why the Lord gave us the community of Christianity so that we may help one another stay the course of righteousness.
If we as Christians stand together we can win this war against the dark forces of Halloween and reclaim the night in the name of Jesus.
The people who will most oppose the concept of Halloween reclamation and Hallo-Witnessing are those who are not Christian, and especially those who are in active allegiance with the occult and Satan.
For instance, some atheist or pagan parents may object that you are trying to tell their children the Truth about the Lord Jesus Christ and His offer of Salvation.
They wish to hide the Truth from their children, not only by banishing God from their own homes, but from our nation's schools as well.
While most of these parents are merely ignorant of the Truth and wish to keep it from their children due to their misunderstandings of what it really is, some know and understand it but are actively trying to suppress it anyways due to the evilness in their hearts. The children of these latter parents need your help. You must get the Tru
th to them so that they may escape the clutches of their Satan-infested households.
Mini-KitKat bars work well for hiding personalized Bible tracts since they have an outer label that can be removed, written on, and reattached with ease.
This is why Hallo-Witnessing is so important.
These are the children we need to reach, and since they won't be coming to our churches and we can't currently reach them through the secular school system, Halloween represents our only - and, praise!, our best - chance to bring them over to Christ.
If any children in your neighborhood are being spiritually abused in this manner, you may have to be stealthy to get the Good News to them.
Consider not doing any overt Hallo-Witnessing such as costume dramas or putting out a Jesus-o-lantern, but instead focus on targeted distributing of Bible tracts to children who won't come in contact with the the abused child or his parents.
Also consider putting up more secular Halloween decorations - such as cardboard articulated skeletons -
so as to make your house seem non-threatening to those brain-washed by the occult. When the abused child comes, have prepared a special handout for him or her with hidden Bible tracts.
These can be written on the inside of candy wrappers, but avoid using any prepackaged Bible tract candy such as Bazooka Jesus as those would just be thrown out by the parent. Also be sure to include a personalized note and the phone number of your church so that the child knows he or she can contact someone on the outside world to get help.
It is our duty as Christians to oppose the forces of darkness, and by reclaiming Halloween from the Pagans, secularists, and practitioners of the occult we will be doing just that.
I hope that this information helps you all in our righteous cause.
God bless and have a Holy Halloween!
Halloween and the Forces of Darkness
Where did it all come from?
October 31st is a day of ghosts, witches, goblins, and grotesque creatures. It is also a day of orange and black, of candles and jack-o-lanterns. Costume parties and strange customs occupy the minds of western civilization, and all of this seems to be intensifying every year.
Children wearing every kind of costume imaginable, and some unimaginable, have been going for door to door for years at the end of October saying “trick or treat” and collecting bags full of treats. In recent years, many people have been decorating their yards as cemeteries and making their houses look spooky.
Even churches have Halloween parties and set up “haunted houses” as fund raising projects. Where did it all come from, and what does it all mean?
Most people would say it is all harmless fun. Some would venture to say, “If there is any witchcraft in it, it is white witchcraft.” In order to truly answer both of the questions where did it come from and what does it mean, we must go clear back to the origin of it all.
Halloween has its origin in the British Isles about 1300 years ago. In those days, there were many men and women who practiced a so-called “nature religion” known as Wicca. (The word “Wicca” means “wise ones.” The word “witch” is derived from “Wicca.”)
The witches worked their spells and magic as individuals or sometimes in groups of 13 known as Covens. Sometimes the witches and wizards worked as a triumvirate or power of three. The female Wiccan was known as a witch, and the male Wiccan was known as a wizard. The word “warlock” was not used by witches to identify themselves. It is actually a Scotch-Gaelic word that means “traitor.” Satanists use the word “warlock.”
The Wiccans were worshippers of the “Earth Mother”, the sun, the moon, and stars. Witches do not believe in Satan. The Wiccans or witches meet every Friday night at a gathering called an “esbat.”
They draw a magic circle with a six-pointed star in it called a “hexagram”, from which we get the word “hex.” The coven of 13 stand “sky clad” or naked in the hexagram and work spells by chanting and doing rituals such as “drawing down the moon.”
The full moon is sacred to witches, especially if it is on a Friday. It is considered to be even greater if the Friday is the 13th day of the month.
Eight times each year, the witches celebrated a sabat and the ritual work and spell casting was always done on the eve of the sabat.
The sabats are Imbolc on February 2nd, the spring equinox on March 22nd, Beltaine on May 1st, the summer solstice on June 22nd, Lugnahsaid on July 31st, the fall equinox on September 22nd, Samhain on October 31st, and the winter solstice on December 22nd, which is also known as Yule.
Witches have special ways of celebrating for each sabat, and even though they do not believe in Satan, it is Satan who gives them the experiences they have and deceives them into thinking it is the forces of nature they are tapping into.
Halloween is the most important of the eight sabats in witchcraft and is known to the witches by the Scotch-Gaelic word “Samhain”, which is pronounced “SOW-EEN.” It is believed that on that night, the barrier between this world and the next, known as the astral plane, becomes very thin.
The witches believe that this allows spirits of departed ones to travel freely back and forth between the earth and the spirit realm. Thus, Halloween is the highest day in Wiccan witchcraft. On that night for many centuries, witches would work their magic and then have wild parties all through the darkness of that night.
They would play games, such as bobbing for apples, because witches regard the apple as sacred. The witches would also tell stories from their personal diaries of spells known as their “book of shadows.”
These ghost stories would start when the hosting High Priest or Priestess would say, “A witches’ tale and a cup of ale for the host of our guests unseen.”
In those early days in England, there was another kind of witchcraft known as Druidism. The Druids were called “men of the oaks” and were a strange clan of men who dressed in white robes.
The Druids worshipped Cernnunos, the “horned hunter of the night.“ Halloween was sacred to the Druids because their sun-god receded to the underworld on October 31st, which is why darkness increased and light decreased according to their reckoning.
As darkness set in on October 31st, the clan of Druids would put on their white robes and hoods. They would carry sickles and Celtic crosses as they began a torchlight procession. At the beginning of the procession, a male slave was killed and dragged by a rope fastened to his left ankle.
The Druids would walk until they came to a house or a village where they shouted the equivalent of “trick or treat.” The treat was a slave girl or any female to be given to the Druids.
If the people refused to a girl as a “treat”, blood was taken from the dead slave and used to draw a hexagram or six-pointed star on the door or wall of the village. Spirits of the “horned hunter of the night” were invoked by the Druids to kill someone in that house or village by fear that night.
If the house or village gave a girl as a “treat”, the Druids put a pumpkin with a face carved in it in front of the door or gate of that place. Inside the pumpkin was a candle made of human tallow to keep evil spirits away. Thus, the Jack-O-Lantern was and is a sign that you have cooperated with Satan.
The treats or female victims were taken to Stonehenge where they were raped and killed and then sacrificed on the sacred bonefire until only glowing embers were left. The “bonefire” is the origin of the modern day bonfire. As a matter of luck for winter survival, all villagers were expected to use the glowing embers of the bonefire to light their hearths.
As we can clearly see, Halloween is not harmless. Satan has people in our modern era mimicking the witches and Druids of old. All of this is cursed of God. We live in a time when witchcraft is being revived. Movies are filled with witchcraft and numerous television programs such as “Charmed” are teaching witchcraft to millions.
The Harry Potter books are likewise furthering the cause of Satan! Halloween is no joke and is not harmless fun!
This evil holiday has no part in the life of a Christian. The Roman Catholic Church borrowed Halloween from the witches, which shows how blind they are. May God help you as you read this tract to avoid Halloween and warn others that it is strictly the invention of Satan and can never be anything but evil of the first magnitude!
Pastor David J. Meyer
(A former astrologer and occultist)
Related Bible Verses:
Last Trumpet Ministries International
PO Box 806
Beaver Dam, Wisconsin 53916
HALLOWEEN AND THE OCCULT
(A True Story)
Witchcraft is very real but greatly misunderstood. I know because witchcraft goes back on the paternal side of my family for over five generations to Chesterfield, Massachusetts in 1770.
My great grandmother became a well-known witch in Wisconsin in the early days of this century. Caroline was a blind witch and used her fingers to read palms and also became adept at putting “the hex” on people.
Many spooky things would happen in our family. Dishes would slide off from shelves, light bulbs would unscrew and fall to the floor, filmy apparitions would appear and vanish, and this sort of thing became a way of life.
In one instance, my father was riding with my grandfather in a horse-drawn wagon, when a filmy white apparition appeared in front of the horse, causing the horse to rear up on its hind legs. Surrounded by electrifying fear, my grandfather cracked the whip and the wagon lurched forward and on its way.
My father also watched in stunned amazement when, on another occasion, an unhitched wagon loaded with hay went up a steep hill by itself.
Halloween was a special time for me, as I was growing up in Clintonville, Wisconsin. I had given my heart and soul to that day called “Samhain” (pronounced Sow-en). I had learned that the pagan Sabot of Samhain was a time when the barrier between the mundane and astral planes was very thin and departed spirits easily crossed over.’
I also learned that the Roman Catholic Church copied and re-named all of the eight sabbots. Not only had Samhain become Halloween, but the Winter Solstice became Christmas, Imbolg became Candlemass, Beltaine became May Day, and Lughnasadh became Lammas.
The vernal equinox was celebrated as Easter, which is always the first Sunday after the first full moon following the spring equinox.
Halloween was my special time, when I felt drawn to become like my great grandmother. I wasn’t interested in the silliness of the Catholic Halloween. I wanted real magic. The so-called “Christians” were cursing themselves and their children by copying the craft that their tenets forbade. I knew full well that so-called Christians were copying what my spiritual ancestors had done for many centuries.
The powerful witches, known as Grand Druids or men of the oaks, that lived in the ancient British Isles gathered at Stonehedge on October 31st. These ancient witches practiced human sacrifice, hollowed out pumpkins and turnips, carving faces in them, and then used candles made from human tallow to illuminate them.
The druids played games such as bobbing for apples, as they floated in a tub of October ale. The druids also practiced ritual sex known as the “Great Rite”, as the fires blazed forth in the darkness of the giant stone monoliths of Stonehenge near Salisbury, England.
The apple was thought to be sacred, because when cut in half cross-wise, the core would reveal the Pentacle or five pointed star. The five points of this star represented Earth, Wind, Fire, Water and Spirit.
When I was 13 years old, I began to invite the spirits of my deceased great grandmother into myself. Soon I began to acquire powers and became an adept astrologer and palm reader. I also practiced numerology and was becoming a very powerful witch. Many people followed me — and the advice that I gave them. I had achieved a great measure of success.
By the time I was 19, I had reached my first goal. I was a powerful witch. Then, very suddenly, the realization hit me that I was making predictions without looking at my charts. I would blurt out predictions in minute detail, and they would come to pass.
I became frightfully aware that I had become a sending station and was dispatching spirits to make my predictions come true. I predicted accidents and tragedies, and suddenly I became filled with overwhelming fear.
I did not know it at the time, but a dear old woman had been praying for me every day for a long time. She had known my grandparents, and God used her to pray me out of darkness. I was completely disabled by fear, which God, in His mercy, allowed to come upon me.
A friend that I knew in high school persuaded me to come to church with him. It was a small apostolic church. I soon found myself on my knees repenting, as I had now found a power far greater than all witchcraft. One week later I was baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ. The next week I was baptized in the Holy Ghost.
I felt fifty pounds lighter, as many evil spirits fled from me as I yielded myself completely to my newfound friend, the Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Now I have no fear and am a true minister of the Gospel.
This tract, that you are reading, has been prayed over. Now that you have read it, you will never be the same. You will not be able to get this out of your mind.
Most so-called “Christian” churches are phony, but the Lord Jesus is real. Why live in fear and end up in damnation? I can help you! Please write to the address below and we will contact you.
With a prayer for you,
David J. Meyer
Last Trumpet Ministries International
PO Box 806
Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Learn just what to do before you go out against these pagan practices!
By Don Rogers
In the past few years increasing awareness of spirit activity on a territorial level has developed.
John Dawson's book, "Taking Our Cities For God" and "Engaging The Enemy" edited and compiled by C. Peter Wagner made a major contribution in helping Christians become aware of territorial spirits.
Over the years, I have encountered this kind of activity and have been able to learn from it. Understanding the dynamics of the spirit world is not for the curious or those who are fascinated by such things.
This kind of understanding brings great responsibility. We become accountable to use what God reveals to us in helping others. There is often a price to be paid. The path is often difficult and only those who know how to persevere in faith are successful.
A number of years ago, the bulk of my ministry was itinerant in nature. I would travel over great distances to minister to those in need.
I began to realize that there were geographical areas where I could sense a unique type of bondage pervading the countryside. At other times, I did not discern the territorial bondage, but would later be confronted by it as I attempted to minister.
I remember ministering in a region of Pennsylvania once a week for about six months. The area must have covered about 400-500 square miles. Each week I was usually in a different town.
After I entered the home of the person who was to receive ministry, I would discover each person beginning to suffer from the same symptoms. They were experiencing fear, an upset stomach and buzzing in their ears.
The buzzing made them feel dizzy and confused. After three cases in a row, I directed my attention to the spirit causing this phenomenon and found that I was dealing with a territorial spirit that ruled over the whole area. He did not like what I was doing.
My ministry was a threat to his rule over the people of that region. He cursed me in their minds and sometimes spoke out of their mouths.
Knowing what I was dealing with, I broke this spirit's power over each individual and commanded him to leave. Immediately, their physical and emotional symptoms disappeared and I was able to continue to minister and witness them set free from the powers of darkness oppressing them.
Generations of witchcraft were practiced throughout the area. It was practiced in the form of psychic healing that had religious packaging. This ruling spirit was very powerful and made claims upon a number of generations. To this very day, Satanic groups are flourishing in this area.
God is letting the consequences of "the sin of the fathers: be visited upon the children (Exod 20:5; Num 14:17-18). Like the children of Israel, who rebelled against the Lord's commands, God provides a way of escape if the people will repent and seek Him.
I had been ministering in a particular area off and on for a few months. Each case that I had seemed to be exceedingly difficult. There were barriers confronting me in each case that I was working.
One day, As I was ministering to a former Satanist, the territorial ruler manifested himself in the countenance of the individual.
The face contorted and a raspy, sneering voice shouted out, " I have been resisting you as you ministered to Mary __, Edward __, Jason __ and Sheila __ and many others.
You have invaded my territory and I will fight you so they will not be set free of my power over them. If you do not stop, I will attack your wife and your children and I will destroy you. Your God will not be able to protect you from my powers!"
It was surprising to hear a powerful spirit speak out and begin naming people to whom I was ministering. The person he was speaking through did not even know any of them.
I had become used to the fear tactics of the enemy. He tries to intimidate with threats in an attempt to force God's servants to back off.
In reality, the spirits are afraid they are going to lose their power base and their ability to rule over people. They recognize and fear the authority of Christ that you represent.
Long ago, I learned to trust the Lord for both myself and my family. He has never failed me.
In Mark 5, Jesus met a man who had demons and lived among the tombs. These spirits in him were called "Legion," for they were many. "The spirits begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area."
(5:10) They had a lot of power that particular area, because raised pigs, contrary to the commands of the Lord. They tried to bargain with Jesus to send them into a herd of pigs, so that they might remain in the area. We must not think that Jesus complied with their wishes.
He used this incident to show us that demons are real entities, not someone's overactive imagination or cultural superstition. Only real entities could affect a herd of two thousand pigs enough to drive them into a frenzy down a steep bank on the run into a lake and drown. Ironically, the spirits ended up without a place to dwell and probably had to go where the Lord sent them.
Another scriptural example of territorial spirits is provided in Daniel 10. the angel messenger told Daniel that the answer he had been bringing in answer to his prayer had been delayed for three weeks because a demonic prince over Persia had detained him.
The messenger said the angel Michael had come to his aid (10:13). The angel also said that he would have to fight against the demonic princes of Persia and Greece on his return and that he would have only Michael to help him (10:20-21).
I remember on one occasion that I had been called in to minister to a man who had been involved in healing witchcraft. It had been a practice in his family for generations. His friends knew that it would be a battle, so there were a number of prayer partners there encircling the room for support.
Shortly after I had bound the territorial spirit and the other spirits that were in this man, a presence manifested itself in the room. He identified himself as a prince from the East that had been summoned to resist us.
I commanded in the name of Jesus Christ for him to be bound and to release the man. My command had no affect whatsoever. I continued to command him, but nothing was happening. The spirit had enormous power derived from the large number of people he had in bondage in the East.
Suddenly, the Lord showed me that we must all begin to pray. So we prayed at great length for the Lord's intervention and for His will to be done. As quickly as he had appeared the spirit was gone, and we continued our ministry. Some high ranking spirits actually thrive on the battle and often we are led to switch course and pray against them.
There are some territorial spirits that are extremely powerful, that require a lot of prayer support to contend with them. It is foolhardy for anyone to think they have carte blanche power and authority to come against these spirits any time they please. We are always dependent on the Lord. These types of encounters remind us of that.
In Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, we notice that Lucifer is the power behind both the king of Babylon and the king of Tyre.
Their domains were really his domains. It brings to mind the offer that the devil made to Jesus when he tempted him in the desert (Lk 4). "The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.
And he said to him, 'I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. so if you worship me, it will all be yours.' "
(Luke 4:5-7) Jesus did not challenge that statement, because it was true. Jesus even called him the "prince of this world" in John 12:31.
He rules over the kingdoms and countries working through the rulers and governments.
Remember when I said there is great responsibility when you have knowledge concerning such powerful activity?
We become accountable to do something about what the Lord is showing us. God revealed to our church four territorial spirits that were attacking churches in the northeastern part of the United States. We began to pray against their activity in order to frustrate and bring down their work.
We witnessed some very encouraging changes occur. But after a period of time, we began to slack off in our warfare against this enemy. Maybe were were getting weary of the same old routine.
Americans are spoiled - we like variety and change. After slacking off a while, things began to go wrong in our church.
Problem after problem began to develop. Before we knew it, we were putting our one fire after another. We were so busy putting out fires that we did not realize that we had stopped our campaign against these territorial rulers altogether.
We had given them a chance to reorganize and retaliate against us and wreak havoc. They kept us so busy and off balance, that we forgot all about our mission. We had not persevered in that which the Lord had called us to do. This is often the way that it happens. We do not persevere in the mission which God commissions us.
The Israelites did not persevere when they entered the Promised Land. They should have driven out all the inhabitants so that the Hebrews would not be corrupted by their presence. Instead, they failed to obey God completely and paid the price as a nation after that.
Territorially, Satan is the "prince of this world." (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) He has organized his kingdom on many levels with his princes serving him to keep the world in bondage.
We cannot allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem. We must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and be obedient to the calling He gives to each of us.
The Kingdom of God is increasing its presence in the world and one day, the Son of God will usher in the Kingdom in its completeness. The battle is the Lord's and we are his warriors who await His command.
1. THEY IMPERSONATE GOD IN OUR THOUGHTS
"And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve." - 2 Corinthians 11: 14-15
Religious spirits manifest themselves to people as an "inner voice" from God. They come as "angels of light" saying to some, "You are special to Me." "Your are different from others. I am giving you special knowledge - a special assignment." They flatter people with these words enticing them to spiritual pride. This is often how cults are born.
Spirits also impersonate the Holy Spirit and try to inflict a lot of guilt. Rather than bringing loving conviction, they pound with accusations of how bad we are and how worthless we have become. They torment with thoughts of turning from God and losing our salvation.
II. THEY IMPERSONATE OUR OWN THOUGHTS - Using our expressions
Extremely negative thoughts - "I am a failure" - "I am ugly" - "I am worthless" - "I will never succeed" - "God does not love me" - "I am a misfit. No one cares about me."
Prideful thoughts - "I am better than others" - "I am smarter than she is" - "I am more spiritual than they are" - "I don't need anyone else"
Rebellious thoughts - "I have a right to do what I want with my life" - "Nobody is going to tell me what to do"
Hatred - "I don't like them because . . ." - "I will never forgive them because . . ." - "I want them to suffer the way they made me suffer."
Suicide - "I am better off dead" - "Nobody cares if I die anyway" - "They'll be sorry when I die" - "Why not drive my car head on into the oncoming traffic?"
(Are these self-thoughts always demonic? No. But many of them do have their source in the demonic.)
III. THEY IMPERSONATE SATAN'S PRESENCE
Many times spirits take one of the names of Satan and confront the victim as Satan himself. They are attempting to intimidate the person by instilling fear that they are being confronted with the "prince of this world." They say, "I am too strong for you" - "I will torment you until you give in - submit to me and I will stop." "You have no chance because I am so powerful.
Hoping to paralyze the victim into inactivity, they will often say - "Your God cannot help you - I will destroy you."
IV. THEY BATTLE FOR THE MIND AND WILL
Satan knows that if he can convince or intimidate us through one of these forms of attack, he will have a definite advantage. He seeks to bring our mind and will into subjection through lies and deception.
When we are aware of these tactics, we will be more discerning when these attacks come to us. These attacks are much more deceptive than they appear. The fact that they have manifested in our thoughts makes them very personal.
We are used to letting our thoughts lead us. What we must do is learn to test the thoughts that we receive with the Word of God. Whether the thoughts have their source in our flesh or demonically, testing them by the Word is always an effective defense.
The real Santa Claus:
who was he?
St. Nicholas by Susan Seals
Used by permission
The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey.
His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering.
He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.
Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers.
After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave.
This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day.
Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.
One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry.
This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry.
This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.
One of the oldest stories showing St. Nicholas as a protector of children takes place long after his death. The townspeople of Myra were celebrating the good saint on the eve of his feast day when a band of Arab pirates from Crete came into the district.
They stole treasures from the Church of Saint Nicholas to take away as booty. As they were leaving town, they snatched a young boy, Basilios, to make into a slave.
The emir, or ruler, selected Basilios to be his personal cupbearer, as not knowing the language, Basilios would not understand what the king said to those around him. So, for the next year Basilios waited on the king, bringing his wine in a beautiful golden cup.
For Basilios' parents, devastated at the loss of their only child, the year passed slowly, filled with grief. As the next St. Nicholas' feast day approached, Basilios' mother would not join in the festivity, as it was now a day of tragedy.
However, she was persuaded to have a simple observance at home—with quiet prayers for Basilios' safekeeping. Meanwhile, as Basilios was fulfilling his tasks serving the emir, he was suddenly whisked up and away. St. Nicholas appeared to the terrified boy, blessed him, and set him down at his home back in Myra.
Imagine the joy and wonderment when Basilios amazingly appeared before his parents, still holding the king's golden cup. This is the first story told of St. Nicholas protecting children—which became his primary role in the West.Another story tells of three theological students, traveling on their way to study in Athens.
A wicked innkeeper robbed and murdered them, hiding their remains in a large pickling tub. It so happened that Bishop Nicholas, traveling along the same route, stopped at this very inn. In the night he dreamed of the crime, got up, and summoned the innkeeper.
As Nicholas prayed earnestly to God the three boys were restored to life and wholeness. In France the story is told of three small children, wandering in their play until lost, lured, and captured by an evil butcher.
St. Nicholas appears and appeals to God to return them to life and to their families. And so St. Nicholas is the patron and protector of children.Several stories tell of Nicholas and the sea.
When he was young, Nicholas sought the holy by making a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There as he walked where Jesus walked, he sought to more deeply experience Jesus' life, passion, and resurrection. Returning by sea, a mighty storm threatened to wreck the ship. Nicholas calmly prayed.
The terrified sailors were amazed when the wind and waves suddenly calmed, sparing them all. And so St. Nicholas is the patron of sailors and voyagers.
Other stories tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and much more. He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return.
Within a century of his death he was celebrated as a saint. Today he is venerated in the East as wonder, or miracle worker and in the West as patron of a great variety of persons-children, mariners, bankers, pawn-brokers, scholars, orphans, laborers, travelers, merchants, judges, paupers, marriageable maidens, students, children, sailors, victims of judicial mistakes, captives, perfumers, even thieves and murderers! He is known as the friend and protector of all in trouble or need (see list).
Sailors, claiming St. Nicholas as patron, carried stories of his favor and protection far and wide. St. Nicholas chapels were built in many seaports. As his popularity spread during the Middle Ages, he became the patron saint of Apulia (Italy), Sicily, Greece, and Lorraine (France), and many cities in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Russia, Belgium, and the Netherlands (See list).
Following his baptism in Constantinople, Vladimir I of Russia brought St. Nicholas' stories and devotion to St. Nicholas to his homeland where Nicholas became the most beloved saint.
Nicholas was so widely revered that more than 2,000 churches were named for him, including three hundred in Belgium, thirty-four in Rome, twenty-three in the Netherlands and more than four hundred in England.
Nicholas' tomb in Myra became a popular place of pilgrimage. Because of the many wars and attacks in the region, some Christians were concerned that access to the tomb might become difficult.
For both the religious and commercial advantages of a major pilgrimage site, the Italian cities of Venice and Bari vied to get the Nicholas relics. In the spring of 1087, sailors from Bari succeeded in spiriting away the bones, bringing them to Bari, a seaport on the southeast coast of Italy.
An impressive church was built over St. Nicholas' crypt and many faithful journeyed to honor the saint who had rescued children, prisoners, sailors, famine victims, and many others through his compassion, generosity, and the countless miracles attributed to his intercession.
The Nicholas shrine in Bari was one of medieval Europe's great pilgrimage centers and Nicholas became known as "Saint in Bari." To this day pilgrims and tourists visit Bari's great Basilica di San Nicola.
Through the centuries St. Nicholas has continued to be venerated by Catholics and Orthodox and honored by Protestants. By his example of generosity to those in need, especially children, St. Nicholas continues to be a model for the compassionate life.
Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas' feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity.
In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor—and sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds.
December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts, and riddles.
Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint's horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift-giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child.
How did the kindly Christian saint, good Bishop Nicholas, become a roly-poly red-suited American symbol for merry holiday festivity and commercial activity?
The first Europeans to arrive in the New World brought St. Nicholas. Vikings dedicated their cathedral to him in Greenland. On his first voyage, Columbus named a Haitian port for St. Nicholas on December 6, 1492.
In Florida, Spaniards named an early settlement St. Nicholas Ferry, now known as Jacksonville. However, St. Nicholas had a difficult time during the 16th century Protestant Reformation which took a dim view of saints.
Even though both reformers and counter-reformers tried to stamp out St. Nicholas-related customs, they had very little long-term success; only in England were the religious folk traditions of Christmas permanently altered.
(It is ironic that fervent Puritan Christians began what turned into a trend to a more secular Christmas observance.)
Because the common people so loved St. Nicholas, he survived on the European continent as people continued to place nuts, apples, and sweets in shoes left beside beds, on windowsills, or before the hearth.
Colonists came to America after the Reformation in the 1500s.
They were primarily Puritans and other Protestant reformers who did not bring Nicholas traditions to the New World.
What about the Dutch?
Although it is nearly universally reported that the Dutch did bring St. Nicholas to New Amsterdam, scholars find limited evidence of such traditions in Dutch New Netherland. Colonial Germans in Pennsylvania held the feast of St. Nicholas, and several accounts do have St. Nicholas visiting New York Dutch on New Years' Eve.
Patriots formed the Sons of St. Nicholas in 1773, not to honor Bishop Nicholas, but rather as a non-British symbol to counter the English St. George societies. This St. Nicholas society was similar to the Sons of St. Tammany in Philadelphia. Not exactly St. Nicholas, the children's gift-giver.
After the American Revolution, New Yorkers remembered with pride the colony's nearly-forgotten Dutch roots. John Pintard, influential patriot and antiquarian, who founded the New York Historical Society in 1804, promoted St. Nicholas as patron saint of both society and city.
In January 1809, Washington Irving joined the society and on St. Nicholas Day that year he published the satirical fiction, Knickerbocker's History of New York, with numerous references to a jolly St. Nicholas character. This was not a saintly bishop, rather an elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe.
These delightful flights of imagination are the origin of the New Amsterdam St. Nicholas legends:
that the first Dutch emigrant ship had a figurehead of St. Nicholas; that St. Nicholas Day was observed in the colony; that the first church was dedicated to him; and that St. Nicholas comes down chimneys to bring gifts. Irving's work was regarded as the "first notable work of imagination in the New World."
The New York Historical Society held its first St. Nicholas anniversary dinner on December 6, 1810. John Pintard commissioned artist Alexander Anderson to create the first American image of Nicholas for the occasion.
Nicholas was shown in a gift-giving role with children's treats in stockings hanging at a fireplace. The accompanying poem ends, "Saint Nicholas, my dear good friend! To serve you ever was my end, If you will, now, me something give, I'll serve you ever while I live."
The jolly elf image received a big boost in 1823, from a poem destined to become immensely popular, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," now better known as "The Night Before Christmas."
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf. . . .Washington Irving's St. Nicholas strongly influenced the poem's portrayal of a round, pipe-smoking, elf-like St. Nicholas.
The poem generally has been attributed to Clement Clark Moore, a professor of biblical languages at New York's Episcopal General Theological Seminary. However, a case has been made by Don Foster in Author Unknown, that Henry Livingston actually penned it in 1807 or 1808.
Livingston was a farmer/patriot who wrote humorous verse for children. In any case, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" became a defining American holiday classic. No matter who wrote it, the poem has had enormous influence on the Americanization of St. Nicholas.
Other artists and writers continued the change to an elf-like St. Nicholas, "Sancte Claus," or "Santa Claus," unlike the stately European bishop. In 1863, political cartoonist Thomas Nast began a series of annual black-and-white drawings in Harper's Weekly, were based on the descriptions found in the poem and Washington Irving's work.
These drawings established a rotund Santa with flowing beard, fur garments, and an omnipresent clay pipe. As Nast drew Santas until 1886, his work had considerable influence in forming the American Santa Claus.
Along with appearance changes, the saint's name shifted to Santa Claus—a natural phonetic alteration from the German Sankt Niklaus and Dutch Sinterklaas.Santa was then portrayed by dozens of artists in a wide variety of styles, sizes, and colors. However by the end of the 1920s, a standard American Santa—life-sized in a red, fur-trimmed suit—was emerging from the work of N. C. Wyeth, Norman Rockwell and other popular illustrators. In 1931 Haddon Sundblom began thirty-five years of Coca-Cola Santa advertisements that popularized and firmly established Santa as an icon of contemporary commercial culture.
This Santa was life-sized, jolly, and wore the now familiar red suit. He appeared in magazines, on billboards, and shop counters, encouraging Americans to see Coke as the solution to "a thirst for all seasons." By the 1950s Santa was turning up everywhere as a benign source of beneficence, endorsing an amazing range of consumer products.
This commercial success led to the North American Santa Claus being exported around the world where he threatens to overcome the European St. Nicholas, who has retained his identity as a Christian bishop and saint.
been a long journey from the Fourth Century Bishop of Myra, St. Nicholas, who showed his devotion to God in extraordinary kindness and generosity, to America's jolly Santa Claus. However, if you peel back the accretions he is still Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, whose caring surprises continue to model true giving and faithfulness.
There is growing interest in reclaiming the original saint in the United States to help restore the spiritual dimension of this festive time. For indeed, St. Nicholas, lover of the poor and patron saint of children, is a model of how Christians are meant to live.
A bishop, Nicholas put Jesus Christ at the center of his life, his ministry, his entire existence. Families, churches, and schools are embracing true St Nicholas traditions as one way to claim the true center of Christmas—the birth of Jesus. Such a focus helps restore balance to increasingly materialistic and stress-filled Advent and Christmas seasons.
How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus: One Theory
Jeremy Seal on an Epic History
BATH, England, DEC. 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).– The modern persona of Santa Claus is a far cry from its origins: St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra. So how did he go from a charitable saint to an icon of Christmas consumerism?
Travel writer Jeremy Seal embarked on an international search to answer that question and recorded his findings in Nicholas: The Epic Journey from Saint to Santa Claus (Bloomsbury).
Seal told ZENIT what he discovered tracking the cult of Santa Claus across the globe and why he thinks St. Nicholas and his charism of charity still resonate today—despite the commercialization of Christmas.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
To what lengths did you go to research it?
Seal: I was drawn to this subject because I have children of my own, two girls who were 6 and 2 when I started this project. They reminded me how significant a figure Santa is to children.
I also was attracted to St. Nicholas because his story has an epic quality. I am a travel writer and was aware that in his posthumous evolution he made a strange journey from his beginnings in Turkey to Europe, Manhattan and the frozen north.
I went to all the places associated with Nicholas' life.
I began in Turkey where his original basilica stands in Myra, now Demre; followed his cult west to Bari, Italy, and north to Venice; then Amsterdam and plenty of other places in Europe; then on to Manhattan and eventually to Lapland in northern Finland and Sweden with my daughters last Christmas.
Q: Who was St. Nicholas of Myra?
Seal: We know very little about him. He was a fourth-century bishop of Myra, a town in southern Turkey now known as Demre. There are almost no references to his actual life except for a material reference in a sixth-century manuscript.
We're left with an almost entirely posthumous St. Nicholas. But because he was such a success posthumously, it suggests something in his life must have commended him; we don't know much about him but get the sense that he was a special person.
Nicholas seems to be a sensible person that made his name from giving material, practical assistance. That aspect has resonated through the ages because material assistance is something we all need and can relate to.
Q: What are some of his most remarkable deeds?
Seal: There are a whole range of stories, because he was unique in living a long life. During his time, most Christian saints were martyred, but Nicholas has lots of stories because he lived a long life and he died in his bed.
You can select any number of stories about him, but most have in common his bringing help to people.
There are endless stories of him saving sailors caught in storms off Myra. Once he persuaded the captain of a passing ship to bring his grain cargo to Myra where people were starving -- and the captain's cargo of grain was replenished.
Some falsely accused soldiers awaiting execution saw him in a vision; Nicholas comforted them and brought about their release.
When the idea of Nicholas reached Russia in the 11th century, a whole new range of stories popped up. Russians call him "ugodnik," which means "helper." In Russia, he helps in other ways: assisting shepherds in protecting their flock from wolves, protecting houses from being burned down, etc.
Q: What obstacles did the cult of St. Nicholas face through the centuries?
Seal: I think there are two particular areas.
First, from the eighth century onward, the area where he began in southern Turkey was increasingly under threat from advancing Muslims, who didn't have much interest in him.
Nicholas' relics were removed from Turkey in 1087 and were taken to Bari, Italy, which established him in Europe and allowed his cult to expand throughout the continent. It was an amazingly timely relocation because he was not to be marginalized in a future Islamic country; he could start again in Bari with a cathedral over his relics.
Second, the Reformation swept across Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and downgraded the significance of saints. I think he survived that because he had become a figure that had moved beyond the Church -- he had become a cherished member of the home.
Nicholas would come every Dec. 6 and bring gifts down the chimney to children in Northern Europe as early as the 14th century; he was popular and much loved. This seems to have given him and his cult a kind of resilience when elsewhere the images and statues of saints were being razed, burned or smashed.
Q: How did he evolve into the present-day Santa Claus?
Seal: The love of Nicholas kept his cult alive up until the late 18th century in Manhattan, where a re-versioning of Santa Claus occurred.
The name "Santa Claus" is an American accented version of the Dutch "Sinterklaas." St. Nicholas and Santa Claus are the same person, but many people don't realize that. They are one in the same, but they look different because they are at different points in his posthumous evolution.
We don't know when the idea was carried from Northern Europe to New Amsterdam, now Manhattan. It's safe to say he came with early settlers as a fake memory and was then dormant in North America until the late 18th century.
What happened then was that gift giving, which had been until that time a local and seasonal exchange of homemade objects, exploded into something bigger. Mass manufacturing began, retail shops opened, toys became available from Northern Europe, and books, musical instruments and linens all became purchasable.
The effect this had was that gift-giving customs were transformed out of all recognition. This caused the need for a providing spirit of gift giving. St. Nicholas was the gift giver from the old world in the Dutch and English traditions; they didn't have to think back too far to remember him.
People in the late 18th century popularized the idea of Santa Claus, but not too deliberately at that time for commercialization. He began to emerge then and his name gradually changed into Santa Claus.
In the 1820s he began to acquire the recognizable trappings: reindeer, sleigh, bells. They are simply the actual bearings in the world from which he emerged. At that time, sleighs were how you got about Manhattan.
The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," also known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," debuted in 1822 and described all his details. He smoked a pipe then, but was well on the way to be the figure we know now.
As all these elements took shape around him, he became more and more associated with commercialism, which is understandable but a corruption of what he originally meant. In the medieval period he was a symbol and icon of charity. I am not sure that is true anymore; he seems to be a strange mixture of charity and rampant commercialism.
Q: What do you suggest faithful Christian parents tell their children about Santa?
Seal: What I have tried to do by tracing Santa back to his origin is remind myself there is a real moral point to gift giving. St. Nicholas' point was helping people when they were in a spot.
That is the lesson we can take out of this. Gifts just for the sake of giving to our loved ones who have enough may not reflect what St. Nicholas was all about.
How to frame questions about the significance of this man to children, I do not know.
I am a lapsed Anglican, but I find St. Nicholas fascinating from the intellectual and moral points of view. I love the wonderful moral material that he stands for, his active charity.
St. Nicholas appeals to anyone with any moral basis; no belief system can disagree with what he stands for.
He speaks to everyone because so much theology can be complex, but he and his stories are simple. I think that is why they have resonated for hundreds of years and why they had evolved into this family rite we practice with Santa Claus today.
Interview from ZENIT, December 20, 2005. Used by permission.
The epic journey from Saint to Santa Claus by Jeremy Seal
Bloomsbury, New York & London, 2005
Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca, or amazon.co.uk
Getting to know good St. Nicholas