Give Santa back! Turkish professor calls for return of St Nicholas' bones which were taken to the Vatican in the 11th century
19:22 GMT, 23 December 2012
With an address at the North Pole, every child knows where Santa Claus lives.
But the ancient remains of the person on whom the mythical figure of Father Christmas is based are at the centre of a tug-of-war.
An archaeologist has called on the Vatican to return the bones of St Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, to his home town in Turkey.
Tug-of-war: An archaeologist has called on the Vatican to return the bones of St Nicholas, pictured (left) when he was the Bishop of Myra in Turkey in the 4th century and (right) as he is depicted now, to his home town
Professor Nvzat Cevik has called on the Vatican (above) to voluntarily give up the religious artifact and return them to his grave in the town of Demre in the southern province of Antalya
Professor Nvzat Cevik said the bones of the third century saint were taken out of the country in 1087 'by force' and buried in Italy.
Cevik has called on the Vatican to voluntarily give up the religious artifact and return them to his grave in the town of Demre in the southern province of Antalya.
He denies the request is aimed at boosting tourism for the region but says it is simply a human wish.
Christmas is not widely celebrated in the Muslim nation of Turkey.
Popular figure: Tourists walk the ruins of ancient Lycian tombs in Myra, Turkey, the hometown of St Nicholas
But Santa Claus is based on stories about St Nicholas who built a reputation for performing miracles and secretly giving gold to the needy.
On one occasion, according to stories, he climbed down a chimney to leave his donation.
After his death in the year 343 Nicholas was buried in his hometown of Myra.
Arab forces who occupied Myra in the 11th century excavated the bones and brought them back to the Italian port of Bari where they are buried to this day.
Despite lacking St Nicholas's bones the ancient town of Myra, which is now called Demre, houses a museum dedicated to his good deeds and attracts scores of visitors each year.