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Niko is the Slavic and Finnish short form of Nicholas. Nicholas's name is the anglicized spelling of the Greek name "Nicolas," which is derived from "nike" (victory) and "laos" (people). Nicholas came into common use in the late Middle Ages, due to the growing cult and popularity of Saint Nicholas (who lived during the 3rd and 4th centuries, in present-day Turkey). Saint Nicholas was known for his secret anonymous gift-giving and thus became the inspiration behind the Christmas tradition of Santa Claus (he was the Dutchman who developed the concept of "Saint Nicholas" in the 19th century). However, centuries before the creation of Saint Nicholas as Santa Claus, the real Saint Nicholas was highly revered among Catholics and Eastern Orthodox alike (which is why this name has enjoyed widespread international appeal). He is known as the patron saint of children (so aptly). Among the Greeks and Italians, Saint Nicholas is also considered the patron saint of sailors and was often revered as a Christianized version of the sea god Poseidon in Greek mythology. Many miracles were attributed to Saint Nicholas so it is not surprising that the name became a favorite of many Christian cultures throughout the Western world. Nicholas remains a very popular name among English speakers, but has also spawned several other variations in other languages, as well as many diminutives including Nick, Noel, Klaas, Nils, Niko and Nico (some examples). Niko is currently a Top 25 favorite boy's name in Croatia and a Top 100 in Slovenia.
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