The mythical being we call Santa Claus or “St. Nick” is loosely based on a real historical figure, Saint Nicholas of Myra. St. Nicholas served as the bishop of Myra in the early fourth century. While he is known as a giving man, most do not realize that he gave people more than money.
The story goes* that he was one of the bishops present at the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325, and was a defender of the full deity of Christ against Arius. When Arius took the floor and began to argue for his view of Jesus (a view that claimed Jesus was a created divine being who was less than fully God), Saint Nicholas’ heresy meter went off…as well as his temper. He entered the “ring” and proceeded to slap Arius in the face for speaking such heresies.
So next the next time you think of Santa Claus, don’t think of the jolly ‘ol fat man in the red suit; think of the fist-fighting defender of orthodoxy! Take that…and that…and that you heretics!
BTW, legend has it that when Nick slapped Arius, Arius yelled out “Ho ho homoousios.” If you didn’t get that, don’t worry. Just a stupid theology joke.
*I have to admit that there are not good historical grounds for the story. St. Nick is not mentioned as being present in the contemporary historical sources, and the story about him punching Arius does not appear in any literature until the late 14th century. Furthermore, Arius wasn’t even allowed to speak at the council since he was not a bishop (Eusebius of Nicomedia defended Arius’ position for him at the council), so he couldn’t have slapped Arius. Despite the questionable historical veracity of the account, it’s just too fun to pass up.