Q:

Who made up Santa Claus?

A:

Quick Answer

The modern image of Santa Claus is a combination of stories from Washington Irving and Clement Clarke Moore, the latter of whom wrote "A Visit from St. Nicholas" in 1822. However, the origins of Santa Claus date back to 280 A.D. and a Christian saint named Nicholas.

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Full Answer

The original St. Nicholas was a Greek man residing in a small Roman settlement called Myra, in what would later become Turkey. He was known as the patron saint of children, among many other diverse groups. Over time, the qualities of several European pagan deities, such as Saturn and Odin, both white-bearded men who possessed magical powers, were attributed to St. Nicholas. The stories evolved over time, each adding new characteristics to the figure of St. Nicholas.

Later changes to St. Nicholas' name, most specifically in the Netherlands, saw Saint Nicholas become "Sinterklaas." From there, Sinterklaas became two separate names, and was further Anglicized into Santa Claus as he would become known. Many different regional traditions were added throughout the centuries to make up the jolly, red-clad, portly mascot of modern Christmas celebrations. However, the origins of the Santa Claus myth rest largely with a real life figure who was often known for bringing gifts to children.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Is Santa Claus real?

    A:

    Santa Claus is a myth told to children, but he does have historical roots in St. Nicholas. The legend of St. Nicholas dates back to 280 A.D. St. Nicholas was a monk who became the source of many stories, though the validity of the stories is unknown.

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  • Q:

    What is the nationality of Santa Claus?

    A:

    According to the St. Nicholas Center, the persona of Santa Claus is loosely based on St. Nicholas, a bishop in Myra, Turkey who became the patron saint of children. Primarily through Dutch settlers celebrating his feast day, St. Nicholas became known as "Santa Claus" over time.

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  • Q:

    Is there a Santa Claus?

    A:

    While the jolly old man traditionally seen at Christmas does not actually exist, his legend is traced back to a 3rd Century monk named St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was born around 280 A.D. in what is now known as Turkey.

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  • Q:

    Does Santa Claus exist?

    A:

    Santa Claus is a fictional character from Christmas tradition. An amalgamation of folklore, myth and historical literature, Santa Claus is primarily based on a canonized Catholic bishop from the 4th century named Saint Nicholas.

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