The modern American version of Santa Claus originally came from the Dutch version called Sinter Klaas. The Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) brought this fun and lively tradition to America.
This version of Santa has given the current myth its visual form and these most curious traditions:
- A jolly old man with red and white clothes
- Eight flying reindeer, later joined by Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (an invention of Macy's Department Store!)
- A home and workshop located at the North Pole
- The tradition of filling stockings with presents on Christmas Eve
- Also the notion of entering houses through the chimney
The most important single source for our modern day version of Santa Claus in America comes from the Christmas poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas" by Clement C. Moore. Written for his children in 1823, the family poem was later published for the general public and included what became the now famous picture of Santa Claus by Thomas Nast that solidified our modern day iconic image of Santa.
The modern Santa is the result of a mixing of many traditions: Christian and Pagan, Old Catholic, Scandinavian, Dutch, German and English.
There's something special about Christmastime. Santa brings us all together! Kids all over the world know who Santa is... And although he may be a little commercial, who can help, but love the jolly old elf?
It's the "spirit of giving" that unites us and fills the holidays with the warmth of family and kinship.
Did you know?
Santa goes by many names around the world. Some you've no doubt heard and some you may not have:
- Santa Claus
- Saint Nicholas/Saint Nick
- Joulupukki - Finland
- Naoṁ Nioclás - Ireland
- Hagios Nikolaos - Greek
- Nicholas of Myra - Turkey
- São Nicolau - Brazil
- San Nicola di Bari or Babbo Natale - Italy
- Shengdan Laoren - China
- Father Christmas - U.K.
- Pere Noel - France
- Christkindl or Kris Kringle - Germany
- På Norsk - Norway
- Kerstman - Netherlands
- Sinter Klaas - Holland
- Grandfather Frost - Russia
- Papa Noel - Spain
Want to learn more about Santa and other Christmastime traditions?
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Santa on Wikipedia
St. Nicholas Day