The History of Santa Claus: St. Nicholas and the Origin of Santa – FreeSchool

The History of Santa Claus: St. Nicholas and the Origin of Santa – FreeSchool


You’re watching FreeSchool! Children all over the world look forward to
Christmas, when Santa Claus will put on his red suit, hitch his magical flying reindeer
to his sleigh and bring treats and toys to good girls and boys – but where did the story
of Santa come from? The history of Santa Claus begins more than
a thousand years ago, in what is now Turkey, with a man named Nikolaos of Myra, now called
Saint Nicholas. He was born in the year 270 AD, the son of
wealthy parents. His parents died when he was young, and he
inherited their money. Saint Nicholas was very religious, and became
a Christian Bishop. Because he was kind as well as rich, he gained
a reputation for helping the poor as well as secretly giving gifts to people who needed
them. One famous story about Saint Nicholas is the
story of how he helped a poor man and his three daughters. The man was so poor that his daughters did
not have enough money to get married. One night, Saint Nicholas threw a small bag
of gold through the window into the poor man’s house. The next night he threw another bag of gold
through the window. The third night, the poor man decided to wait
by the window to see who was leaving the gold, and so Saint Nicholas dropped it down the
chimney instead. The bag landed in the stocking of one of the
girls, who had hung it by the fire to dry. With the gold from Saint Nicholas, they had
enough money to get married. Throughout the middle ages, children were
given gifts in honor of Saint Nicholas. This was usually done the night before December
6th, which was the day that he had died. In the 16th century, Protestant reformer Martin
Luther suggested moving the date that gifts were given were given from December 6th to
Christmas, to help bring more focus to Jesus Christ, but Saint Nicholas didn’t get left
behind. In England, he became Father Christmas. In Denmark, Sinterklaas. In Austria and Germany he became a helper
to Christkindl, or the Christ child, who began to be the bringer of gifts. When European colonists began to settle the
new world they brought all of these characters – as well as pre-Christian legends and mythology
– with them, and they all began to mix together. Sinterklaas became Santa Claus, Christkindl
became Kris Kringle, and people started trying to figure out exactly how this new story went. In 1823, Clement C. Moore, a poet from New
York, published the poem ‘A Visit from St. Nicholas,’ now better known as ‘The Night
Before Christmas.’ In the poem, Moore wrote that Santa drove
a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, landed on the roof, and filled stockings with presents. Moore’s Santa was dressed in fur, but nothing
was said about what color it was, and he was described as a little elf. More details of Santa’s story can be credited
to the German-born American cartoonist Thomas Nast. Beginning in 1863 and over a period of 20
years, Nast created Christmas illustrations for the magazine Harper’s Weekly. He portrayed Santa as a grandfather-like person
in a red suit. He also drew pictures showing that Santa lived
at the North Pole, and of children mailing him letters. By the time the 20th century began, Santa
Claus looked very much like he does today, although his legend continues to evolve. I hope you enjoyed learning about Santa Claus
today! Goodbye till next time!

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