in Norse and European legend, the original Saint Nicholas was a
kind and generous saint of the 4th century born in Turkey.
Disguised in a hooded cloak, he traveled from door to door leaving
gifts of food, clothing and money for the poor and underprivileged.
Long after the legend of this benevolent saint had all but
disappeared, Dutch children, who knew him as Sinter Klaas,
continued to set their wooden shoes near the hearth hoping to
find them filled with treats in the morning.
the ninth century there was a rebirth of appreciation for the
kindly Saint's life. The Clergy of Cologne began observing
the anniversary of the death Saint Nicholas with gifts of fruit
and cookies for the boys in the cathedral school. December
6th soon became Feast of Saint Nicholas Day and was celebrated
by the people of many European countries as a special holiday.
immigrants flowed into America, so did the legend of Sinter
Klaas along with holiday customs. Most American children
could not pronounce the Dutch name, so they called him Santa
Over the years, Santa Claus has become an all-American icon.
As most people know, he was brought to life in a bedtime story
written by nineteenth century poet Clement C. Moore originally
titled "A Visit from St. Nicholas". We all know this
traditional favorite as "The Night Before Christmas". With
this, Moore created the modern-day image of Santa Claus with his
rosy cheeks, round belly and magical flying reindeer sleigh we
all know and love.
the artists involved in the Coca-Cola Company's yearly holiday
advertising campaign embellished the character with a red,
fur-trimmed suit, black boots and a pointed hat making them more
responsible for creating the accepted modern-day image of Santa
Claus than anyone else.
Regardless of which image is your favorite, children all over
the world still believe this jolly old elf brings sacks of toys
down even the smallest chimney every Christmas Eve.