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History of Santa Claus

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The history of the Santa Claus has many different origins, but he is usually shown as a fat and jolly man who has a long white beard and is generally dressed in a red and white suit and he drives a reindeer drawn sleigh through the night sky. Santa Claus is known by many different names including; Saint Nicholas, Santa, Father Christmas and Saint Nick. The history of the Santa Claus says that Santa will visit the houses of children all over the world on the night of Christmas Eve to deliver presents to all of the good children. He enters through the chimney and leaves his presents either underneath the Christmas tree or in the stockings which are hung above the mantle. This particular image which is the most popular of Santa Claus is actually a North American invention which came about in the 19th century, but the history of the Santa Claus also has European roots and this myth influences the celebration of Christmas all over the world for millions of children.


The history of the Santa clause stems from early Christian legend of Saint Nicholas who saved storm tossed sailors, defended young children and would give generous gifts to the poor. Many of the stories of Saint Nicholas have been elaborated a little but his legend managed to spread throughout Europe which helped to emphasize his role as the traditional bringer of gifts. The Christian figure of Santa Claus was replaced by lots of pagan gift giving figures including the Roman Befana and the German Knecht Ruprecht.


In different countries Saint Nicholas was often said to ride through the sky on a horse and he was often depicted wearing the robes of a Bishop and was often said to be accompanied by Black Peter who was an elf. His job was to whip the naughty children. The feast day of Saint Nicholas when presents were traditionally received is the 6th December, but after the Reformation it was encouraged that the veneration of the Christ child as a gift giver on his own feat day, which is 25th December. When this tradition prevailed, it became attached to Christmas/ but because the life of the saint is unreliably documented, Pope Paul VI ordered the feast of Saint Nicholas dropped from the official Roman Catholic Calendar back in 1969 and the term Christkindl evolved into Kris Cringle which is another known nickname of Santa Claus.


Originally, the more modern Santa Claus was depicted wearing a green suit instead of a red one, it was actually the makers of Coca-Cola who changed his suit to red and white to match their product. Nowadays, the history of the Santa Claus is often lost, with children believing him to be a magical bringer of gifts on Christmas Eve each year. Many other symbols have been given to Santa Claus including the reindeer and the sleigh, the red suit and the elves!


You can find out more about the Christian origins of Santa Claus by doing a simple search on the internet which will give you helpful information and links to sites which will be able to tell you all about the history of the Santa Claus.

This article was published on Monday 28 September, 2009.

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