Dear Children,

You may all know Father Christmas who brings you gifts at New Year's Eve. But did you know by chance that he lived indeed in Turkey, in the distant parts?

Now, let me tell you the story of his life:

Father Christmas was born in Patara/Ovagelmiş on the Mediterranean Coast 1700 years ago. He spent all his life in Myra/Demre near Patara. These two ancient sites are now within the provincial borders of Antalya. Antalya: One of our wellknown cities of great touristic attraction. It is famous for its ancient sites, historical houses inside the old city walls (a district known as Kaleiçi), beaches of golden sand, Taurus Mountains with their smoky peaks, lavishly green valleys, splashing waterfalls, orange and banana plantations.



Patara was a port town at that time. A wealthy family trading in wheat was living in this town. The family had a lovely house with a pretty garden. The garden was perfumed by a myriad of flowers growing on its patio.

A boy was born to this family one day. He was called Nicholas, meaning "the victorious hero". Nicholas spent a very happy childhood in this well-to-do environment. However, his parents died unexpectedly when he was quite young. He inherited the entire family fortune. After wondering for a while what to do with all this money he decided to help the poor people around him. Sharing his wealth with the people who were in need not only made him content, but made all those people happy. He even sold his house and lived in a smaller one.

The people of Myra were so poor that parents were not even able to take care of their children. Children were left on their own in the streets. A
dults who didn't have a job were begging all day long for a piece of bread. The sick, old and lonely people were leading a desperate life in the streets. Father Christmas, who was aware of all this misery, founded an orphanage for the children, a kitchen for the poor, a hospital for the sick and a nursing home for the old.

Friendship, brotherhood, love, peace, tolerance and benevolence are symbolized by Father Christmas. This philosophical approach is the essence of the Anatolian culture and can not be monopolized by a single religion. In order to live in peace we should accept people as they are. We should love and help each other and share without discriminating on the basis of religion, race, and language.

These humanistic values were diffused by Father Christmas in 4th century and by the writings of great thinkers and poets such as Mevlana, Yunus Emre, Hacı Bektaş Veli and Pir Sultan Abdal from Anatolia to the rest of the world in the following centuries.

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