The Origin of Santa•
Posted on December 29 2020
Oh, Christmas! A decorated pine tree, a man in a red suit, gifts... So many symbols that are familiar to us. But where do they come from? How did they take root in our practices? Let’s take a look at the fabulous story of our very own Santa!
Saint Nicholas, patron saint of the Children
Celebrated on December 6, Saint Nicholas accompanies the pivotal period of the transition to winter. Born in 270 in the south of present-day Turkey, he was made bishop around 312. In the 11th century, his relics were transferred to Bari, Italy. The praise of his miracles, and in particular of his generosity helped to spread his cult. He is known to have endowed three young girls whom their father, driven by poverty, had resigned himself to devote to prostitution. However, he appears in particular as a donor of food and becomes the patron saint of children. Hence the distribution of treats to good children. In the countries of Germanic culture, his figure was inspired by the god Odin, gaining the ability to move through the air. Santa Claus owes him a lot! It is indeed this Saint Niklaas that the German and Dutch emigres took with them to the New World.
The birth of Santa Claus
On the other side of the Atlantic, the date for the distribution of gifts is gradually changed towards December 25. It is a pastor named Clement Clarke Moore who transformed, in two texts published in 1821 and 1823, Saint-Nicholas into a softer and smiling character, full of joy and stripped of his episcopal attributes. In the adventure, the protagonist, then called Santa Claus, had a knitted cap and a reindeer to pull his sleigh filled with presents.
Finally, it is to the press illustrators, John Tenniel and Thomas Nast, that we owe the idea we have today of the look of Santa Claus: a paunchy old man, dressed in a suit edged with white fur and held in place with a large leather belt. It was also Nast who established, in 1885, the main residence of Santa Claus in the North Pole. Contrary to what those who deplore the commercial twist of Christmas, Santa Claus does not owe his image to Coca-Cola. The soda brand has only relied on the fame of the old man to advertise it. Maybe it just tipped the scales to red. At that time, Santa Claus still seemed to hesitate between red ... and green.
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