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The Secret Cult of Santa Claus

Updated on October 30, 2010

The following is the true story and origin of the character we know as Santa Claus. I warn all parents right now that this does show that Santa Claus is fictional. So if you have any children looking over, you may want to revisit some other time. These facts are as accurate as I can find and have been documented throughout history to be true.

Who is Santa Claus?

Is Santa Claus a made up person? Yes and No. In the year 270 a man named Nikolaos was born. He later became a bishop of Myra. Over time he was one of the most tenured bishops and helped lay out what Christian's now know as the New Testament. Nikolaos was known for secretly giving gifts, like leaving coins in children's shoes that they left outside. Nikolaos live to be 75 and died on December 6th, 345.

How did Santa get so popular?

Nikolaos had established a gift giving holiday in Bari, Italy, called the Grandmother of Pasqua Epiphania. The Grandmother of Pasqua Epiphania was supposed to be a gift giving spirit that filled the childrens' stockings with gifts. In 1087, sailors that idolized Nikolaos took his bones from Turkey to this place in Italy and made a shrine to him. This became a temple for the cult that followed Nikolaos. In remembrance of his death, members of said cult would give each other presents on the 6th of December.

In 2 years time the Nikolaos cult spread north to Germany and Ireland. These groups worshiped a Pagan God called Woden, who had a long white beard and was said to have ridden a horse through the skies on an August evening, thus giving us the idea that Santa Claus traveled by air. The two, Nikolaos and Woden merged to form a bearded man riding a horse on a solitary evening on December 6th each year.

How did he gain the name Santa Claus?

The Catholic Church, who formerly celebrated a Saturnial festival on the week of the 17th-25th of December, adopted this idea in order to gain more Pagan followers to the Church, but suggested that Nikolaos rode through the skies on the 25th of December distributing gifts to all.

The Dutch Novelist, Washington Irving, wrote "Knickerbocker History" a book including St. Nikolaos, referring to him as Sinterklaas. Upon reading this book, a Union Seminary professor, Clement Moore, wrote a poem entitled "Twas the night before Christmas", including the character Sinterklaas, who he renamed Santa Claus. This is one of the earliest known documentations of Nicholas being called a Saint. Moore painted the picture that Santa Claus had a team of reindeer and climbed down chimneys to deliver gifts to children.

How did Santa get his Image?

A cartoonist for Harper's Weekly, Thomas Nast, published over 2,000 images of what he thought Santa should look like. Nast also fabricated that Santa lived at the north pole with an elf crew that built toys for the children of the world. He is also the man that made up the idea that Santa had a Naughty and Nice list. Nast's various images portrayed Santa dressed in a big frock, elfish like, with a long white beard and fat belly, however there was still one final piece missing about Santa's image.

In 1931 the Coca Cola company was looking to promote it's product to the rest of the world. So... they hired Swedish Illustrator, Haddon Sundblom. Their pitch to Sundblom was for him to create a Santa garnished in Coca Cola Red, drinking a Coca Cola, thus giving us the historical coke drinking Santa Clause image. And that is how Santa Claus came to be, a Coca Cola Marketed, Christianic, Pagan God-like figure.

If you found this interesting, please support me by casting your vote for this hub on the weekly hubnuggets hub. It is listed under the science category. While you are there check out the other great hubs that others have wrote. These are the highest quality hubs of the week on hubpages.


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    • profile image

      motheroftwins 5 years ago

      This is good to know, I don't think it will go over well with the kids

    • taylorslaw profile image

      taylorslaw 6 years ago from Taylors

      Years ago I read a book that revealed the coca cola connection to santa claus but never went this far back. Thanks for the research.

    • lone77star profile image

      Rod Martin Jr 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      A fascinating story. Thanks for bringing the history of it to life.

    • quicklysilver profile image

      quicklysilver 6 years ago from wexford, ireland

      I thought this was going to be about a cult of people who were obsessed with Santa Claus. Doing things like growing white beards, hanging out with small people, riding around on sleighs, etc.

    • YU_First 1 profile image

      YU_First 1 6 years ago from Uganda

      The hub made interesting reading to me since I had just written one thru the hubmob weekly topic. I especially enjoyed the link to Coca Cola. I was unaware of that fact.

      Thanks for an informative article.

    • Betty Johansen profile image

      Betty Johansen 6 years ago

      A fun read. I like how you were able to space your illustrations throughout your hub. I'm going to have to learn how to do that.

    • M Selvey, MSc profile image

      M Selvey, MSc 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Interesting Santa facts! And, wow, it is amazing how stories and traditions can be pieced together from bits of factual people and events and woven together. Great research and enjoyable writing!

    • Super Gay profile image

      Super Gay 6 years ago

      Thanks for the interesting read. It's unsettling how a big corporation can dominate a figure so associated with Christmas.

    • Fenixfan profile image

      Fenixfan 6 years ago from Mississippi

      Thanks for all the comments guys. I'm glad ya'll enjoyed.

    • libby101a profile image

      libby101a 6 years ago from KY

      DANG and I was hoping Santa was gonna bring me something nice for Christmas this year! I'm disappointed now!

      Jesse You destroyed my dream of Santa being real... now how you gonna fix that?

      BTW: How's your leg healing?

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 6 years ago

      very good information..I like to learn new things .=)

    • tmbridgeland profile image

      tmbridgeland 6 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      I visited the tomb of 'Santa Claus' in Bari, Italy. Big, solid silver thing, in a really impressive church. The story they told in the tourist literature was that pirates from Bari stole the body and brought it home.

    • Fenixfan profile image

      Fenixfan 6 years ago from Mississippi

      Don't you wish he was real. Imagine going to the North Pole. It's great to have a dream.

    • IvoryMelodies profile image

      IvoryMelodies 6 years ago

      Learned lots of things I previously did not know. Thank you for the great info, and congrats on the Hubnuggets nomination!

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Oh no! Santa is... a fake? Hu hu hu

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. This is for real...check it out: hehehhe

      Love from ripple-whitequeen and the Hubnuggets Team :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Woot... he's not real? You're kidding. Nothing like taking the wind out of my sails.

      great hub

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Dorothee-Gy profile image

      Dorothee-Gy 6 years ago from near Frankfurt/M., Germany

      Thanks for this hub. I knew that the red color thing was an invention of Coca Cola, but it is very interesting to read the rest of the story, too...

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 6 years ago from Australia

      Excellent hub. I didn't know Coca Cola has history with Santa Claus - not sure I like that!

    • lcbenefield profile image

      lcbenefield 6 years ago from Georgia

      Interesting. Thought provoking. Very Informative. Thanks. Good research.