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Santa in Hittite Mythology

Legend of Father Christmas could have deeper links with myths of ancient
Hittites.


NTV, Istanbul, Turkey

December 18 [2002]-- A cup dating to the 14th century BC, held in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, establishes another link between the legend of Santa Claus and Anatolia.

The cup, a product of the Hittite Empire, is decorated with scenes depicting the Hittite God Telepinu. However, it also contains all the elements of the traditional depictions of Santa Claus: a pine tree, a bag full of gifts and vehicle draw by deer.

Associate Professor Sedat Erkut, an expert on the history of the Hittites, said that the story told on the cup was that of Telepinu, the Storm God, losing his son. Erkut said that in an old text from the Hittite era there was a legend that the God hung a sack of gifts as an offering for good health and prosperity on a tree, beneath which there was a
sacrificed deer.

This practice was adopted as a regular ritual with trees being cut down and placed behind a statue of the God and with the sacrificing of a deer according to Erkut. In the Hittites' tradition he said that then a type of bread called Labka was broken into pieces to decorate the tree and then place gifts in a skin bag.

"All of these cannot be a coincidence," Erkut said, comparing it to later practices to commemorate Christmas.

He went on to say that Saint Nicholas of what is now the southern Turkish town of Demre, who is widely acknowledged as being the founder of the story of Santa Claus for giving gifts of money to young women who could not afford their dowry, could have revived the Telepinu myth.

"Not every part of the Santa Claus story and the myth match each either," he said. "One is a myth the other a saint that is known to lived there," Erkut said.



11/05/2009