The History of Santa Claus

Hi Everyone! Our Holiday Open House and Craft festival is this Saturday from 10-3. We are celebrating Santa Claus this year. So we thought it might be fun to take a look at the history of Santa.

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. In the Netherlands and Belgium St. Nicholas became Sinterklaas, a skinny bearded man in a red suit, trimmed with fur and wearing a bishop’s miter. Sinterklaas would leave presents for good girls and boys in their shoes left by the children’s beds, and he would also bring treats for the families horses. In 1804, John Pintard, a member of the New York Historical Society, distributed woodcuts of St. Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. The background of the engraving contains now-familiar Santa images including stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a replace. In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister, wrote a long Christmas poem for his three daughters entitled “An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” more popularly known as “‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.” Although some of Moore’s imagery was probably borrowed from other sources, his poem helped popularize the now-familiar image of Santa. In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department-store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke. The ad featured the world’s largest soda fountain, which was located in the department store Famous Barr Co. in St. Louis, MO. Mizen’s painting was used in print ads that Christmas season, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in December 1930. It was an instant success and further cemented our modern image of Santa.

We are so lucky that Santa will be joining us this weekend for our event, so if you have little ones, please bring them along so they can give Santa their wish list! The event is free and we are open from 10-3. We hope to see you there!