Who is Santa Claus


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The Evolution of Santa Claus


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The legend of Santa Claus originates from a 4th century bishop named Saint Nicholas of Myra. Famous for his generosity to the poor in what is present day Turkey, Saint Nicholas is said to have saved three impoverished daughters from slavery by providing for their dowries. Saint Nicholas is portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes, and his feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6.


Toward the end of the 18th century, Dutch settlers brought the legend of Saint Nicholas, known to them as Sinter Klaas, to America. Legend has it that Sinter Klaas rode a white horse and left gifts in wooden shoes. This story merged with the British character Father Christmas, who dates back at least as far as the 17th century. Sinter Klaas was eventually Americanized to “Santa Claus.” 



The rituals and fantasy surrounding Santa Claus became fixed in the modern American imagination with the publication of the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” by Clement Moore in 1823. Better known as “The Night Before Christmas,” the poem established Santa´s physical appearance (plump and jolly), his mode of transportation (a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer), and his method of toy delivery (down the chimney) for generations to come.


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