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.
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.Learn More
The holiday character of Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas, a Christian saint who was born in Turkey in 280 A.D. and believed to have died in 343 A.D. Dutch immigrants introduced his legacy to the United States in the 1700s, and the tradition of Santa Claus was born.Full Answer >
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.Full Answer >
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.Full Answer >
Santa Claus is a figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins. Among several Western practices, he is believed to bring gifts to the homes of good children on the eve of Christmas (December 24). Other common names for Santa Claus are Saint Nicholas, Kris Krinngle or simply “Santa.”Full Answer >