Santa Claus: Real Origins and Legend
06

Oct 2021

The Legend of St. Nicholas: The Real Santa Claus

Santa Claus—otherwise known as Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle—has a long history steeped in Christmas traditions. Today, he is thought of mainly as the jolly man in red who brings toys to good girls and boys on Christmas Eve, but his story stretches all the way back to the 3rd century, when Saint Nicholas walked the earth and became the patron saint of children. Find out more about the history of Santa Claus from his earliest origins to the shopping mall Santas of today, and discover how two New Yorkers—Clement Clark Moore and Thomas Nast—were major influences on the Santa Claus millions of children wait for each Christmas Eve.

Our version of Santa Claus based on the original Sain Nicolas image.

Saint Nicolas Statue

The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick’s Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). St. Nicholas made his first inroads into American popular culture towards the end of the 18th century. In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death. 

Santa Claus Around The World

18th-century America’s Santa Claus was not the only St. Nicholas-inspired gift-giver to make an appearance at Christmastime. There are similar figures and Christmas traditions around the world. Christkind or Kris Kringle was believed to deliver presents to well-behaved Swiss and German children. Meaning “Christ child,” Christkind is an angel-like figure often accompanied by St. Nicholas on his holiday missions. In Scandinavia, a jolly elf named Jultomten was thought to deliver gifts in a sleigh drawn by goats. English legend explains that Father Christmas visits each home on Christmas Eve to fill children’s stockings with holiday treats. Père Noël is responsible for filling the shoes of French children. In Italy, there is a story of a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children. In the United States, Santa Claus is often depicted as flying from his home to home on Christmas Eve to deliver toys to children. He flies on his magic sleigh led by his reindeer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and the most famous reindeer of all, Rudolph. Santa enters each home through the chimney, which is why empty Christmas stockings—once empty socks, now often dedicated stockings made for the occasion—are “hung by the Chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there,” as Clement Clarke Moore wrote in his famous poem. Stockings can be filled with candy canes and other treats or small toys.

Christmas Traditions

Santa Claus and his wife, Mrs. Claus, call the North Pole home, and children write letters to Santa and track Santa’s progress around the world on Christmas Eve. Children often leave cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for his reindeer on Christmas Eve. Santa Claus keeps a “naughty list” and a “nice list” to determine who deserves gifts on Christmas morning, and parents often invoke these lists as a way to ensure their children are on their best behavior. 

Gift-giving, mainly centered around children, has been an important part of the Christmas celebration since the holiday’s rejuvenation in the early 19th century. Stores began to advertise Christmas shopping in 1820, and by the 1840s, newspapers were creating separate sections for holiday advertisements, which often featured images of the newly-popular Santa Claus. In 1841, thousands of children visited a Philadelphia shop to see a life-size Santa Claus model. It was only a matter of time before stores began to attract children, and their parents, with the lure of a peek at a “live” Santa Claus.

The Ninth Reindeer, Rudolph
Rudolph, “the most famous reindeer of all,” was born over a hundred years after his eight flying counterparts. The red-nosed wonder was the creation of Robert L. May, a copywriter at the Montgomery Ward department store.
In 1939, May wrote a Christmas-themed story-poem to help bring holiday traffic into his store. Using a similar rhyme pattern to Moore’s “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” May told the story of Rudolph, a young reindeer who was teased by the other deer because of his large, glowing, red nose. But, When Christmas Eve turned foggy and Santa worried that he wouldn’t be able to deliver gifts that night, the former outcast saved Christmas by leading the sleigh by the light of his red nose. Rudolph’s message—that given the opportunity, a liability can be turned into an asset—proved popular.


Rudolph Figurine


click here to leave a message

Leave A Message
If you are interested in our products and want to know more details,please leave a message here,we will reply you as soon as we can.

Home

Products

about

contact