How and from Where did Santa Claus Originate?

July 23, 2018
We must all be familiar with a figure who visits every Christmas with a bag full of gifts for the children and clad in a big red and white coat who arrives in a sleigh drawn by a group of reindeers. But have we ever imagined how and from where did this plump, tall, white bearded and children loving figure come from?

Santa Claus, as is popularly known today, traces its origins to a real saint by the name of St. Nicholas who was born in Greece and who at a very early age became bishop of Myra, a small Roman town in modern Turkey.
A religious icon representing St. Nicholas. PHOTOGRAPH BY HEMIS/ALAMY

St. Nicholas was renowned for his extreme kindness and generosity – often going out at night and taking presents to the needy. He became known as a patron of children and magical gift bringer because of two great stories from his life.

In one of the tales, three young girls are saved from a life of prostitution when young Bishop Nicholas secretly delivers three bags of gold to their indebted father, which can be used for their dowries.

In the other tale, Nicholas is said to have entered an inn whose keeper had just murdered three boys and pickled their dismembered bodies in basement barrels. The bishop not only sensed the crime, but resurrected the victims as well. That's one of the things that made him the patron saint of children.

Over the ages the idea with regard to St. Nicholas has evolved in sync with local customs and traditions across Europe and America. The American development of Santa Claus is largely credited to people like Washington Irving, Clement Moore and most importantly Thomas Nast who is considered the primary source for the way we picture Santa Claus because of a series of drawings he did for Harper's Weekly between 1863 and 1886. There is also a Coca-Cola connection to the way we envision Santa Claus. In order to increase its sales, Coca-Cola assigned artist Haddon Sundblom to come up with a new, more commercial Santa. Accordingly Sundblom came up with a large, jolly fellow in the well-known, bright red suit with white fur trim (the Coca-Cola colors).

So whatever way we wish to image Santa Claus, one conclusion can be made from the evolutionary history of Santa Claus and that is- Santa Claus (or whichever name we wish to call him with) is more than just a figure. He stands for an idea, a belief and which is nothing but being generous, kind and helpful to the people in need, a quality indeed embodied by Jesus The Lord himself…!!

Post Written By - Manash Hazarika

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