Like our previous post about Krampus, Santa Claus also has a long (but much nicer) history. Today he is commonly thought of as a “right jolly old elf” who is often dressed in red and delivers presents to the good children of the world on Christmas Eve every year in a sleigh pulled by magical reindeer. This imagery has been an evolution that can be traced back to the 3rd century.
The legend of Santa Claus has often been thought to have started hundreds of years ago with a monk named Saint Nicholas near what is now Turkey. It is said that this original St. Nicholas gave away his wealth and went around helping others whenever he could and quickly become renowned for his kindness. After his death on December 6, the feast of St. Nicholas became a popular occasion and often considered a lucky day.
Later during the Renaissance era, Saint Nicholas was the most popular saint, even after the Protestant Reformation when the worship of saints fell out of favor, especially in Germany and Holland.
Saint Nicholas made his first American appearance during the late 18th century. In 1773, a New York newspaper wrote a story about several Dutch families that celebrated the Feast of St. Nicholas. The name Santa Claus is derived from the Dutch “Sinter Klass”. The poem Twas the Night Before Christmas was written in 1822 by Clement Clarke Moore and helped solidify the figure of Santa Claus as a Christmas icon. In 1881, Thomas Nast of political cartoon fame came up with one of the earliest American representations of Santa Claus and has changed very little since.
Santa has been a well-known figure all over the world, although he is known by different names in different countries. Kris Kringle is the German Santa Claus, while in Scandinavia he is called Jultomten, Pere Noel is his French name, and he becomes Father Christmas in England.
Whatever you may call him, we hope that the Christmas season brings forth wonderful memories past and present that envelope the true meaning of the season for you and your families and that Santa continues to hold a special place in your heart.
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