Who Is Santa Claus?
Just who is Santa Claus? We all have a picture of the jolly, white bearded man in the red suit and we all know he is associated with Christmas but few of us know of his origins.
The historical reference for Santa Claus is St Nicholas (of Myra) who was a 4th Century Greek Christian Bishop known for his generous gifts to the poor. Although celebrated all over Europe, the Feast Day of St Nicholas was heavily adopted by the Dutch (as Sinterklaas) so much so that most people believe this is where the origins of Santa Claus lie. Some European countries still celebrate St Nicholas Day separately from Christmas but across the world, the Feast day moved from its original December 6 date to December 25 when scholars declared and concurred this was closest to the birth date of Jesus Christ.
The modern day image is generally seen as originating in a sketch from cartoonist Thomas Nast in 1863 but earlier references show that Sinterklaas first became Santa Claus in the American Press in 1773 and was echoed by Washington Irving in 1809. Popularly the view is that the most modern images of Santa Claus come from the poem The Night before Christmas but while the name Santa originated earlier, the poem did establish popular associated images such as the sleigh, chimney entrances and sacks of toys. That Coca Cola introduced the world to our present day Santa is an urban legend.
This is just a quick snapshot but it’s a story delving back into antiquity so be sure to read up more on Santa Claus for an interesting history lesson.