Thursday, December 31, 2009

Turkey seeks return of Santa Claus' bones

By Jonathan Head

Bronze statue of Saint Nicholas outside the Orthodox Church of Saint Nicholas in Bari, Italy
St Nicholas was born in modern-day Turkey 17 centuries ago

A Turkish archaeologist has called on his government to demand that Italy return the bones of St Nicholas to their original resting place.

The 3rd Century saint - on whom Santa Claus was modelled - was buried in the modern-day town of Demre in Turkey.

But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari.

The Turkish government said it was considering making a request to Rome for the return of the saint's remains.

While Christmas is by and large not celebrated in Muslim Turkey, the Christmas figure of Santa Claus certainly is, in the Mediterranean town of his birth.

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