The History of Santa Claus

The History of Santa Claus

Jason Christie, Writer and Cartoonist

We all recognize the iconic red suit, the reindeer, and the sleigh. But where did Father Christmas come from? Who created Kris Kringle? Let’s delve deeper into the origins of Santa Claus.

Santa Claus was a real person. You may not believe me, but let me explain. St. Nicholas was a Catholic bishop in the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D. He was located in modern-day Turkey. One day, Nicholas heard of a man who was once very rich, but had become poor. He had three daughters, but could not afford to pay a dowry for any of them. Nicholas, not being arrogant enough to give in public, decided to sneak by their house one night and throw a bag of gold in. He did this for two more nights. On the third night, he was caught by one of the daughters. The girls’ father fell on his knees and thanked St. Nicholas, who ordered him not to tell anyone. This is believed to be how the gift-giving part of Santa got started.

Why the red suit? The truth is, nobody knows for sure. Most people believe it is because of an advertisement for Coca-Cola™ in the early 1930’s. This is not true, as earlier pictures also show him in a red robe. The red bishop’s robes in the earlier images gradually evolved into the red coat we know and love today.

Rudolph. Comet. Blitzen. Santa’s reindeer are just as iconic as he is. But where did they come from? The first mention of Santa having reindeer is in the 1823 poem, “A Visit from Santa Claus,” better known as, “‘T’was the Night Before Christmas.” It mentions on lines 15 and 16, “when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.” The number of reindeer grew to nine in 1939, when a certain red-nosed reindeer joined the fray. 

The last thing I will reveal to you today is where the name “Santa Claus” comes from. Long story short, it’s the American version of the Dutch name for Santa Claus, Sinterklaas.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the history of this iconic figure with me. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!