Q:

What is the difference between Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus?

A:

Saint Nicholas was a Bishop who lived during the fourth century A.D. in the city of Myra, located in what is now present-day Turkey. Santa Claus is a fictional character that is based largely on the stories of Saint Nicholas. Over time, stories of the real St. Nicholas and the fictional Santa Claus merged to create folk stories where the two are one and the same.

St. Nicholas was orphaned as a teenager and used his sizable inheritance to provide gifts to people in need in his community. He was canonized for his generosity and is celebrated on the day of his death, Dec. 6. The stories of Santa Claus are built on the historical St. Nicholas. Santa Claus' red suit is an homage to the red bishop robes worn by St. Nicholas. The presents Santa Claus leaves in stockings refers back to a story of St. Nicholas where he learned of a man in his town who had three daughters and could not pay dowries for them to get married. He dropped a bag of gold for each daughter down the chimney at night. The bags fell into stockings that were drying by the fireplace, leading to the tradition of leaving stockings hanging by the fireplace to receive gifts. Santa Claus brings presents to children because St. Nicholas had an affinity for children, though the Saint was generous to everyone, not just youngsters.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    How old is Santa Claus?

    A:

    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 >
    Filed Under:
  • 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.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What does Santa Claus look like in Mexico?

    A:

    Santa Claus in Mexico, or San Nicolas de Bari, appears much as other Santa Clauses throughout the world: an old man with a red coat. This red coat is represented by the bright red flowers of the poinsettia that is native to Mexico.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the names of Santa Claus' reindeer?

    A:

    Santa's eight regular reindeer are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. Rudolph also worked for Santa during a particularly foggy Christmas Eve. Donner and Blitzen were originally called Dunder and Blixem.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore