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The Real Reason: Why Do We Put Cookies Out for Santa?

The tradition of leaving cookies out for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve is a tradition that has withstood the test of time. Its history is as old as man itself and has been passed down through generations. This article highlights the history of this tradition, its impact, and how it became widespread. 

When did it start? 

According to research, the tradition of leaving cookies out for Santa Claus may have originated from Norse mythology. It is believed that the Norse god Odin inspired Father Christmas, as both characters bear similar physical features. 

Like Santa, Odin rides on an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir. Kids are urged to leave sweet treats for Odin’s horse in hopes of receiving gifts in return. Although we celebrate Christmas, Norse mythology celebrates Yule, which is the celebration of the Midwinter Solstice. 

What role did Germany play?

Another source states that Germany inspired the history of leaving cookies for Santa. People in Germany traditionally decorate a Christmas tree, originally called the paradise tree, with fruits, cookies, and wafers, similar to leaving cookies out.

Courtesy: NBC News

This tradition symbolizes the days when man resided in the Garden of Eden with God. Usually, the paradise tree is a fig tree that represents the Tree of Knowledge. Others believe it allows Santa to have a snack or two when delivering gifts to the kids. 

How did the Great Depression influence the tradition?

In America, this Christmas tradition is an old tradition that has been around since the 17th century. During the Great Depression, leaving out cookies was a way for struggling families to show their appreciation to Santa.

Courtesy: Business Insider 

This became a sign of gratitude and appreciation for the gifts Santa drops off. Leaving out cookies became an iconic part of Christmas as kids looked forward to the gifts, as well as showing their excitement and anticipation for the festive holiday. 

What did Saint Nicholas do? 

Another notable figure responsible for the modern tradition is Saint Nicholas. He was a Greek orphan who was known for his philanthropy. Rather than satisfying his desires, he helped the poor with his wealth.

Courtesy: Twitter 

Every year, on the day of his death, a Saint Nicholas feast is organized, and children leave small food items like cookies, beverages, and cake. This served as an offering to Saint Nicholas after the feast ended. Other sources added that these items would magically disappear and be replaced with gifts. 

How is this tradition done in other countries?

Leaving cookies for Santa has become a global phenomenon. However, different cultures have different ways of doing so. For some, it is essential to leave vegetables like carrots and apples for Santa’s reindeer.

Courtesy: Freepik

Alongside the vegetables, Santa has cookies to eat whenever he comes around. In Europe, particularly Sweden, they leave out rice porridge instead of cookies; Britain leaves out a tray of pies, while Ireland leaves a pint of Guinness. With these differences, it’s a safe bet to know Santa’s favorite places to stop by. 

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