Where did the idea of Santa Claus come from?

Santa Claus—otherwise known as Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle—has a long history steeped in Christmas traditions. Today, he is thought of mainly as the jolly man in red who brings toys to good girls and boys on Christmas Eve, but his story stretches all the way back to the 3rd century, when Saint Nicholas walked the earth and became the patron saint of children. Find out more about the history of Santa Claus from his earliest origins to the shopping mall Santas of today, and discover how two New Yorkers—Clement Clark Moore and Thomas Nast—were major influences on the Santa Claus millions of children wait for each Christmas Eve.

The Legend of St. Nicholas: The Real Santa Claus

The legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around A.D. 280 in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick. One of the best-known St. Nicholas stories is the time he saved three poor sisters from… Click here to read more of this article on history.com

CONTENTS

The Legend of St. Nicholas: The Real Santa Claus

Sinter Klaas Comes to New York

Shopping Mall Santas

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Santa Claus Around the World 

Christmas Traditions in the United States

The Ninth Reindeer, Rudolph

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