Santa Claus is indisputably the emblematic figure of the festive season. On Christmas Eve, when children are asleep, Santa, sat on his magical sleigh led by flying and adorable reindeers, delivers presents all over the world. Whilst Santa Claus is known by everybody, his story remains a bit mysterious for most of us.
From Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus
Santa Claus might come from North Pole or Lapland, but his predecessor, Saint Nicholas, was originally from the Byzantine Empire, situated in today’s Turkey. Saint Nicholas of Myra was a Greek Christian bishop who lived during the 4th century. The pious man was mostly known for being generous with the poor. The white-bearded bishop, generally dressed in a canonical robe, used to offer secret presents to children and those in need. This tradition continued years after his death as every 6th December, children were given presents.
But, after the Protestant reformation, Saint Nicholas lost his popular aura in Europe as the attention switched back to the Christ rather than to saints. As a result, someone else was urgently needed to distribute presents. In the UK, Father Christmas was introduced and was tasked to give gifts on the day marking Jesus’ birth, namely 25th December. Father Christmas was generally portrayed as a cheerful large man wearing a green or scarlet robe ornamented with fur. Santa Claus turns out to be a mix of Saint Nicholas and Father Christmas.
Modern Santa Claus
Santa Claus started resembling the character we are all familiar with today in the 19th century. Back then, anonymous poems, Old Santeclaus and A visit from St Nicholas (The Night before Christmas) introduced the contemporary Santa Claus by describing an old man on a reindeer sleigh, entering chimneys to offer presents to children after landing on roofs. The main protagonist of both poems was depicted as chubby and jolly.
The man that contributed to the modern representation of Santa is the American cartoonist Thomas Nast, who drew a large red-suited Santa for Harper’s Weekly. But it is only in 1930s that Santa, in his red and white outfit, became an iconic figure of popular culture, thanks to a Coca-Cola commercial, featuring him with a bottle of the soft drink.
Today, Santa Claus is everywhere during Christmastime: films, TV, streets, houses, and gardens. Santa Claus is a central and timeless figure who continually inspires Festive to make delightful decorations. At Festive, Santa is represented in many different ways: traditional, woodland, Scottish, Nordic, etc.