Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas!
We’ve all heard the phrase more than several hundred times in our lifetime. We’re all aware of the famous Mr. Claus who is expected to visit each Christmas, that time of the year which is celebrated festively across the world. We all know how chubby Mr. Claus arrives from the chimney and leaves presents for the good kids underneath the Christmas tree, while snacking on any cookies prepared for him. Yes, we all know the story really well but, do we truly know where the origin of Santa Claus came from? The history behind this fictional man?And why has it become an international practice around the globe to welcome his presence?
Well here’s the reality behind the famous Santa Claus; despite being portrayed as a chubby, happy white bearded man dressed from top to bottom in a red coat and trouser with white furry cuffs and spectacles on, in reality this appearance is entirely fictional and is made up. Back in 1823, Thomas Nast a cartoonist and caricaturist wrote a poem called “A visit from St. Nicholas” where he described Santa as the man he is today. The poem popularized fairly quickly especially in the United States and Canada during the 19th century and since then the image of Santa Claus has remained as imagined.
However, was Santa Claus truly real? Did he actually exist? Is he simply a fragment of someone’s imagination? Well not entirely. Back during the 4th century, a Christian Greek bishop who belonged to the province of the Byzantine Empire which is Turkey today, lived a man named Saint Nicholas of Myra. Nicholas was quite popular among his people mostly due to his generosity towards the poor. From a very early age he was devoted towards religion and decided to dedicate his life for the purpose of Christianity. Over his lifetime he earned the title of a Protector of children and sailors. A very famous incident of his humanitarian action is that he saved the life of three underprivileged sisters who were being sold into prostitution by their own father, so Saint Nicholas provided them with a dowry in order to allow them the opportunity for marriage instead.
Now you must be wondering how Saint Nicholas is related to Santa Claus? Well here’s the thing, they aren’t because they both are the same people! The origin of Santa Claus has been inspired from Saint. Nicholas. Bet you’re still wondering how the name evolved to Santa and Claus right?; it came about from Nicholas’s nickname which was Sinter Klaas, which was a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch version of Saint Nicholas).
Originally the tradition follows back to the Middle Ages, when on the evening of 6th December on his name day; gifts were distributed to children in his honor. The same tradition is represented in Christmas with the only alteration in the change of dates. Rather than the 6th of December, the day of gifting was set to the 25th December. The change was initiated first by Martin Luther as he intended to divert the interest of the children towards religion particularly Jesus Christ rather than a saint.
It was then in the 18th century that Saint. Nicholas became popular in the American Culture when groups of Dutch families began honouring his death anniversary. After his recognition became universal, Saint. Nicholas eventually became Santa Claus for the whole word to this date.
So next time you spot a Santa Claus somewhere, you’ll be knowing well enough who inspired the character of the man in the red suit in front of you.