The strange-looking clothing in which Nicholas is often depicted in Christian and secular art is not what he wore as a pastor. Few know the truth of the life and ministry of Nicholas, and for this reason, those who know anything about him often believe he wore the attire associated with Santa Claus, but he did not.Did St. Nicholas Wear Red
Immediately after Jesus died, Christians began to gather for worship on Sunday, rather than the Saturday-Sabbath of the Jews. In those early years of the Christian church, believers wore dark clothing to church, and the reason for doing so is quite simple. The Romans, who had conquered a large part of the world at that time, wore dark clothing to their funerals and other serious or somber occasions. It was their way of showing respect for individuals or important events. Following the custom initiated by the Romans, Christians wore their best attire, and this was usually those darker tunics and robes that they also wore to funerals. Usually these dark colored clothes were the best clothes that believers and unbelievers alike owned. Christians reasoned that if the Romans could show their respect in what they wore, they also should demonstrate their esteem and reverence for God in this way. But, not until after the tenth century did Christian ministers begin to assume the colorful dress and ceremonies associated with the Older Testament. Eventually various colors were used for the pastor’s garments, but red was a dominate color used to symbolize the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.Did St. Nicholas Wear Red
Because later generations of Christian ministers began to wear colorful robes, early generations of Christian leaders were also believed to have worn them as well. For this reason, Christian art depicted Nicholas with these forms of dress. Nearly six hundred years would pass after the life and ministry of Nicholas before church history would record the first use of “the miter and the red cope” by the pope of Rome. Almost universally Nicholas and other early Church leaders are depicted in Christian art dressed in the attire of bishops in the centuries that followed Nicholas’ ministry in Myra. The attire of a minister assumed great symbolism, and it is this later attire that is imposed upon Nicholas and his time period; but, Nicholas would not have worn any of these.
The hat is called a miter. It is a symbol of Christ as the helmet of salvation.
The red bishop’s cape or coat is symbolic of the blood of Christ that cleanses from all sin.
The white stole is a symbol of the yoke of Jesus, a simple reminder that they are his servants.
The bishop’s crozier (staff) is a symbol of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and it symbolizes the way in which the Christian pastor cares for his flock.
No, Nicholas did not dress red as did the bishops of succeeding centuries. All of this came much later as was subsequently imposed upon the life and memory of Nicholas.
The subject addressed in this article is discussed at greater length in this work. Christian Heritage Fellowship would be honored to work with individuals, businesses, churches, institutions, or organizations to help communicate the truth concerning the positive influence of the Christian faith by providing competitive pricing for distribution. To purchase this work, please click: Purchase here...
Throughout the twentieth century, the secular and irreligious forces that helped to produce the ravages around the world have been steadily and aggressively at work eroding America's religious and cultural foundations. Groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), that have arisen out of atheistic Communism have succeeded in cheating America out of the greatest national heritage the world has ever known. But, the historical record Read more...
In the twenty-first century, many of the influences of the Christian faith have been obscured and belittled by secular and irreligious forces. Among the many arenas of cultural disagreement between Christians and non-Christians is the observance of holidays. For decades, Christmas—one of the most sacred seasons on the Christian calendar—has been one of the numerous arenas of conflict. Few recognize that the cultural icon of Santa Claus is one Read more...
He is perhaps the foremost known author on prayer. Edward McKendree Bounds—named in honor of Methodist bishop, William McKendree—is remembered across denominational and theological lines for his insightful works on prayer. For more than a century, Bounds’ works—such as Power Through Prayer and many others—have been a source of inspiration to generations of ministers and laity alike. E. M. Bounds, as he is popularly known, was a Confederate chaRead more...
So deep and strong was the connection of government to the Christian faith in early America that the relationship was recognized in a variety of ways. Few realize that the United States Capitol was used as a church for years before it was used to convene the United States Congress. For nearly three-quarters of a century, the United States Capitol was used for church services. In fact, it became a meeting place for a number of churches in WashingtRead more...
In August of 1992, Democratic Representative from West Virginia, Mr. Nick Joe Rahall, placed a request before his colleagues in the House to set aside Thanksgiving week as a time to celebrate the Christian heritage of America. Tragically, Christians throughout America have failed to capitalize on what Congress did in 1992. Denominational leaders have failed to move the interests of Christ forward even on those very rare occasions when Congress haRead more...
Article Notes and Sources
 Never once in the writings of the Christian leaders that succeeded the Apostles are Christians said to worship on the Sabbath of the Jews—Saturday. Christian leaders who followed the Apostles, known as the Apostolic Fathers, always indicate that Christians worship on Sunday. In some cases, those who are believed to be worshiping on Saturday are severely reproved.
 George Smith Tyack, Historic Dress of the Clergy (London: W. Andrews, 1897), 15.
 Tyack, Historic Dress of the Clergy, 118.
 It does not seem that the attire of bishops was in use until the tenth and eleventh centuries when “the miter and the red cope [was used]according to the custom of the Roman pontiff.” Tyack, Historic Dress of the Clergy, 50-51.