Santa is known in many forms and names throughout the world. We in the United States know Santa Claus as that jolly, portly, older man with the white beard whose business partners are a loving wife, elves, and reindeer.
Our Santa evolved from the very real third-century monk, Nicholas. St. Nicholas was born around 280 A.D. in Partara which is in the vicinity of Myra in what is now Turkey. He became renowned for his generosity and kindness. Born into a wealthy family, he eventually gave up his inheritance in favor of helping the poor and sick. December 6th is St. Nicholas’s day, when he moved on from this mortal coil. Becoming the patron saint of protecting children and sailors, Nicholas never lost his popularity in Europe, especially in Holland, where he’s referred to as Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sinter Nikolaas. Ah... Sinter Klaas, Santa Claus.
St. Nicholas showed up in New York in 1773 and 1774. According to a newspaper, many Dutch families gathered then to celebrate his day.
Americans, Washington Irving, in 1809, in his book The History of New York and Clement Clarke Moore, in 1825, in his poem “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” increased St. Nick’s popularity. Thomas Nast, a political cartoonist, created the first images we know as Santa Claus, in 1881, based on Moore’s poem.
Mr. Claus adopts wardrobe changes and names depending on the location of the globe he’s visiting. For example, Santa is Kris Kringle or Christkind often accompanied by St. Nicholas, to deliver presents to good children in Switzerland and Germany. Those on Santa’s “nice list” in Scandinavia are visited by Jultomten and his sleigh pulled by goats. In England, he’s Father Christmas. France has Pere Noel. Women fulfill the role of Santa in Russia and Italy as Babouschka and La Befana respectively. There are many more personifications of you-know-who in other countries.
Merry thanks to History.com for its treasure trove of information. Read the full article Santa Claus.
May you all be on the “Nice List” and Happy Writing!