Apparently St Nicholas, or Nicholas as he was known back then, was a bit of a shy, self-effacing fellow who climbed on roofs and threw coins down the chimney but all the time trying to stay anonymous so 16 centuries on, i guess he would be quite annoyed to find out that not only his acts of philantrophy are still celebrated, but he has overtaken his boss as the person most associated with Christmas.
Far from slipping away quietly into the shadows of history, a poll reveals that of 1,200 8-16-year-olds questioned by MediaCom TMB, 67% said they associate this time of year with the modern version of St Nick, Santa Claus while only 8% link Christmas with Christ himself.
Church leaders have long tried to get the attention back on the baby in the barn and away from the chubby OAP and there was an attempt a few years ago by a well meaning vicar who would tell his congregation that Santa didn't exist and was faced with a long line of angry parents and crying children.
If the vicar had said God didn't exist then it is doubtful that he would have faced such anger and vitriol which could show that if there was to be a choice between Santa or God, God would lose.
I wonder if St Nicholas knew the train of events his actions would set in motion all those years ago, he would have kept his coins in his pocket but then the Church can't really complain too much because worshipping a Saint is about as close as most people come to religion these days, even if they don't know it.