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Santa Claus: Historical Myths And Legends Of The Gift-Giver

Also called Kris Kringle or Saint Nicholas, Santa Klaus is known today as the man in red who gives good kids gifts on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus is a ‘center figure’ when it comes to Christmas celebrations. Did you know Santa Klaus’ story started several centuries ago? This article takes us back to the early days of Santa Claus, including the common legends. 

It all began with the real Saint Nicholas

Born around A.D. 280 in Patara, near Myra (in modern-day Turkey), Nicholas was renowned for his kindness. He was said to have saved three sisters from being sent into prostitution by giving them dowries for them to be married.

Courtesy: Biography(Bio.)

He also gave out all his inherited wealth to help the poor. His death anniversary, the 6th of December, was regarded as a lucky day. In the Renaissance era, Saint Nicholas was the most popular saint in Europe.

Santa Claus in America

It was reported in a newspaper in December 1774 that Dutch families gathered to honor the anniversary of Saint Nicholas’ death in America. Washington Irving further popularized the Saint’s stories by referring to him as the ‘saint of New York.’

Courtesy: Thoughtco

The saint was formerly called Sint Nikolaas, the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas. Later, a shorter form, Sinter Klaas, was coined, and then, much later, Santa Claus was formed. In the early 1880s, stores started attracting kids with life-sized Santa Claus figures. Then, he was a lanky bishop, not the pot-bellied man we now know him as.

The creation of the Santa Claus we know today

Clement Clarke Moore wrote “Twas The Night Before Christmas” for his three daughters in 1822. The poem depicted Santa as a ‘jolly old elf’ who could ascend a chimney by just nodding his head.

Thomas Nast, a cartoonist, drew inspiration from Clement’s poem in 1881. The image he created looks like the Santa we know today. He gave Santa the famous red suit with white fur trimmings, elves, the North Pole workshop, and Mrs. Santa.

What’s with Santa Claus and chimneys?

One of the most popular Santa Claus legends is about how he enters houses through chimneys. On Christmas Eve, Santa Claus flies on his magic reindeer-led sleigh. His reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Prancer, Blitzen, Vixen, and of course, Rudolph.

Courtesy: Freepik

This is why people fill stockings with treats, candy canes, and small toys; they hang the stockings by the chimney. Santa gifts kids on Christmas Eve for their good behavior; parents make their kids behave well with this reminder.

How is Santa celebrated today?

Of course, every kid can answer that question. In different parts of the world, people celebrate Santa in different ways. However, some basic aspects remain constant in every Christmas celebration.

Courtesy: Freepik

Today, different people dress up in the popular red and white suit, white artificial beards, and caps to play the role of Santa Claus. These Santa Clauses carry bags of gifts and give kids different treats on Christmas Eve. 

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