I remember when I was little and (despite the fact that both my parents are Jewish) I would spend the weeks up until Christmas anticipating Christmas morning, when Santa would have brought me and my brothers a living-room full of presents. I took the responsibility of making sure Santa had cookies and milk (as well as a carrot for Rudolph) very seriously. The man worked hard and needed nourishment to fuel him on his long journey. On Christmas eve it was typical for one adult or another to fool me and my twin brother into going to bed super-early by pretending to hear sleigh bells down the block.
Imagine my disappointment the year I was awake to hear Santa actually IN MY KITCHEN about to help himself to a snack and tiptoed down the stairs to sneak a peek, only to find my dad in his Hanes tighty whities scarfing down my painstakingly arranged Oreos. A myth debunked and a little bit of innocence lost. But not all for naught. I was seven at the time and managed to feign naiveté for another three years – endearing myself to my parents by playing along with childhood nonsense for material gain.
The origin of Santa Claus came Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas and simply “Santa”, is a figure with from historical myth and legend who, in is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas eve, December 24. Over the last couple hundred years, Santa has been elevated from folklore to Coca-Cola salesman – but still exists in our hearts and minds as the symbol of Christmas for all Americans (regardless of whether or not they buy into that whole birth of the lord and savior thing).
I found an article on the gearhungry.com that gives us some fun facts about Santa Claus I thought I would share as a time-saving gift for my readers….all 7 of you. 😉
So, enjoy the light holiday reading and don’t forget you still have to be good for another several hours to cash in…
The history of Santa Claus: 7 interesting facts
From why he wears a red suit to when he got hitched to Mrs. Claus, a look at the mythmaking behind jolly old St. Nick
By The Week Editorial Staff | December 23, 2011
As Christmas approaches, children around the world have Santa on the brain. They’re anxiously wondering if they’ve been overly naughty or sufficiently nice, and eagerly daydreaming about their potential gift hauls. But exactly how did the jolly, bearded North Pole resident evolve into the cultural icon we know today? Here, seven interesting facts about his evolution:
1. He was real… sort of
Folklore may have turned Santa Claus into a toy distributor who mans a sleigh led by eight flying reindeer, but he is actually based, loosely, on a real person. Born around the year 270, St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra, a town in what is now Turkey. He earned a reputation as an anonymous gift giver, says MSNBC, by paying the dowries of impoverished girls and handing out treats and coins to children — often leaving them in their shoes, set out at night for that very purpose. Since his death, Nicholas has been canonized as the patron saint of children.
2. He’s only been ‘Santa Claus’ for 200 years
A Dutch tradition kept St. Nicholas’ story alive in the form of Sinterklaas, a bishop who traveled from house to house to deliver treats to children on the night of Dec. 5. The first anglicizing of the name to Santa Claus was in a story that appeared in a New York City newspaper in 1773.
3. Satire first sent Santa down a chimney
In his satiric 1809 book A History of New York, Washington Irving did away with the characterization of Santa Claus as a “lanky bishop,” says Whipps. Instead, Irving described Santa as a portly, bearded man who smokes a pipe. Irving’s story also marked the first time Santa slid down the chimney, says the U.K.’s Independent.
4. “Twas the Night Before Christmas” introduced the reindeer
Clement Moore’s 1822 poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas — which is now more commonly referred to as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” — was first published anonymously in the Troy, N.Y., Sentinel on Dec. 23, 1823. The 56-line poem introduced and popularized many of Santa’s defining characteristics — chiefly, that he drove a sleigh guided by “eight tiny reindeer.”
5. Coca-Cola created the modern Mr. Claus
When Father Christmas first began showing up in illustrations, he wore many different colored robes: Green, purple, blue, and brown, among others. Beginning in the late 1800s, it became popular to outfit Santa in a red suit. Artist Louis Prang depicted him that way in a series of Christmas cards in 1885, and The New York Times reported on the red garments in 1927. But the modern image of Santa Claus as the jolly man in the red suit was seared into American pop culture in 1931, when artist Haddon Sundblom illustrated him that way for a widely-circulated campaign for Coca-Cola.
6. The department store Santa is a 120-year-old tradition
In 1890, Massachusetts businessman James Edgar became the first department store Santa, according to The Smoking Jacket. Edgar is credited with coming up with the idea of dressing up in a Santa Claus costume as a marketing tool. Children from all over the state dragged their parents to Edgar’s small dry goods store in Brockton, and a tradition was born.
7. Santa was a bachelor until the late 1800s
The first mention of a spouse for Santa was in the 1849 short story A Christmas Legend by James Rees. Over the next several years, the idea of Mrs. Claus found its way into several literary publications, like the Yale Literary Magazine and Harper’s Magazine. But it wasn’t until Katherine Lee Bates’ widely-circulated 1889 poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride that Santa’s wife was popularized. (“Goody” is short for “Goodwife,” or “Mrs.”)
- Norad Tracks Santa Claus On Christmas Eve (news.sky.com)
- Semi-Classic Caterpickles: “How old is Santa?” (caterpickles.com)
- And Santa Claus is on his way! (bizzammovienews.com)
- 8-year-old Virginia asks: ‘Is There a Santa Claus?’ (enterprisenews.com)
- The truth of Santa Claus (bangordailynews.com)
- Where is Santa Claus Now? Google Maps’ Santa Tracker is a Fun Way to Track Santa’s Movement (hitechanalogy.com)
- In this famous reply, what mattered most was the truth (jsonline.com)
- In 2012, do we know who invented Santa Claus? Who really wrote the “Night Before Christmas?” (timpanogos.wordpress.com)
- Twas the Night Before Christmas (legal version) (calconstructionlawblog.com)
- 16 of the Scariest Santa Pictures Ever (neatorama.com)