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History of Santa Claus real - Is he Real?

Updated on December 12, 2013

Santa Claus is a jolly, plump, white-bearded man who wears a red coat decorated with white collars and cuffs. He travels across the world doling out gifts to children on Christmas eve.

We have spent many hours as children thinking about whether Santa Claus was real or not. After growing older we have tried to gather information about the history of the legend of Santa Claus. Presented below is all relevant information about this Christmas figure without whom the celebration and festivities will definitely seem incomplete.

The history and legend of Santa Claus

In Canada and America, Santa Claus is referred to as Santa Claus, while he popularly known as Father Christmas in England. To this day, children all over the globe wait for Santa to deliver their deserving gifts on the day before Christmas. Hence, children often spend the entire year waiting for the return of Santa and his delightful gifts. Adults also wait for this time of the year as the arrival of Santa makes the Christmas festivities all the more special. Given below is a description of the origins of Santa Claus right up to his current appearance.

Sinterklaas and St. Nicholas

The American Santa Claus has been inspired by the legends of Father Christmas and Sinterklaas from Europe, as well as St. Nicholas of Myra. Myra is the current day Turkey which was then a part of the Byzantine Empire. St. Nicholas of Myra was a Greek Christian bishop from the 4th century who was famous for his habit of doling out gifts to the poor.One of the many stories about this saint details the manner in which he gave three bags of gold coins to a poor man so that he could get his 3 daughters married.

Sinterklaas is a legendary character linked with Winter Holiday in many European nations. These nations celebrate the tradition of Sinterklaas on the 5th of December every year, or in the early mornings of December 6. Another legendary figure associated with the myth of Santa Claus is Father Christmas. He is a symbolic character linked to Christmas festivities in English speaking nations.It may be noted that although Father Christmas was thought to represent the spirit of Christmas festivities just like Santa Claus, he never doled out gifts to children like the Santa. However, in recent times the two Christmas characters have been closely linked to each other thereby posing difficulties in distinguishing them.

Odin from the Norse mythology

In addition to the above listed legendary characters, there are many records which indicate a close association between Santa Claus and other significant historical figures. One such character is Woden or Odin, a god from the Norse mythology. He was the ruler of the heavenly abode of Norse gods, i.e. Asgard.

It has been said that when Odin used to and hunt in the sky on Sleipnir, his flying horse, the children placed boots full of straw and carrots as food for Sleipnir. Odin returned this favor by gifting such children with candies and toys. The tradition of placing boots next to the chimney remained popular in Europe for a long time. It ultimately passed through to America via New Amsterdam, a Dutch colony, in the 17th century. Later, the boots were swapped for stockings, thereby ushering in the practice of hanging stockings near the chimney or the fireplace

The United States and the legend of Santa Claus

The mythical figure of Santa Claus came to America and Canada via the British and Dutch colonies in the 17th century. His image was modernized to represent a character who was more than just a gift-giver. The name Santa Claus was first used by the American media in the year 1773.

The bishop’s attire draped by Sinterklaas disappeared in 1809 and was replaced by a Santa Claus who was dressed as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor in a green coat. With the passage of time the belly became bigger and Santa turned into a plump old man who wore a white and red coat. The current appearance of Santa Claus is accredited to some of the well-known works of Thomas Nast, an American cartoonist from the 19th century. The legend of Santa Claus living in the North Pole is also ascribed to one of the works of Nast.

As discussed above the history of Santa Claus is indeed interesting. It may also be noted that the urban legend associated with Santa Claus wherein he is attributed as a creation of the Coca Cola Company is false. Most of us have believed this story as the colors of Coca Cola, i.e., red and white are associated with Santa Claus. However, there were many other beverage companies in America who had used Santa as their mascot much before Coca Cola.

At the end of the day, it is important to remember that Santa Claus is an important figure in Christmas celebrations and almost all children yearn to be in the ‘good kids’ list of Santa rather than his ‘naughty kids’ list. Merry Christmas.

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