|Come the night of December 24 and kids all over the U.S find it hard to go to sleep, eagerly as they await the footsteps of their dear old gift-giver "Santa Claus". This wonderful article attempts to shed light on the background of Santa Claus and ascertain whether he is an entirely imaginary character or a real entity. Read it and know all about Santa Claus and click here to refer this page to all your friends and dear ones who you feel would enjoy it too. Jingle all the way!|
|He is the jolly old bearer of Christmas presents for us, the man who knows no sadness and has an endless stock of gifts for children who act and behave well. In most of the Western world, he is known as "Santa Claus" and is believed to visit every household during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24, to bestow on noble kids the presents of their wish.
But is this man a real entity, a historical figure, or a figment of human imagination?
Numerous researches and legends have indicated that Santa Claus is actually an imaginary character based on several personalities who actually existed during various periods of time. The most famous of these people is, undoubtedly, Saint Nicholas - a kindly bishop who loved children very much.
Nicholas is believed to have been born around the 3rd century AD, in Patara, a city of Lycia, in Asia Minor. During his early boyhood days, he lost his wealthy parents in an epidemic but grew up holding the principles of Jesus Christ close to his heart. As an adult, he became a Christian priest and was made Bishop of Myra at a young age. Devoting his life to the service of God, he used all his wealth to help the diseased, the destitutes and the suffering. He traveled across the country to help people, providing them with money assistance or other presents. But he had a special love for children, probably because he never married and had no kids of his own. He loved children a lot and often gave gifts to the kids of his hometown though he did this at night. The reticent man that he was, Nicholas never liked to draw attention to himself and always left his gifts late at night at his intended houses so that his identity would remain a secret. But few were unaware of these noble acts of Nicholas and with time, he came to be known as the gift giver of Myra. It is said that people in his days used to advice their kids to go to sleep quickly or he would not come! Nicholas was eventually named the patron saint of children and sailors (because of his concern for sailors and ships) and came to be known as Saint Nicholas.
The legend of Santa Claus coming late at night to deliver presents comes from this noble deed of Saint Nicholas.
In countries like England, Ireland, Italy and Portugal, Saint Nicholas is still remembered annually on the 6th of December, which is Saint Nicholas Day, a holiday dedicated to the kindly lover of mankind. In these places, Saint Nicholas is the equivalent of "Santa Claus", who is but an American imagination. The noted author Washington Irving is regarded as the man who first introduced Americans to Saint Nicholas, through his famous work "History of New York" (1809) where he made a mention of Sinter Klaas, the Dutch equivalent of Saint Nicholas. The character stayed on in public memory and reappeared in his fully Americanized persona, albeit as an elf, in the landmark poem "A Visit From Saint Nicholas" or more popularly, "The Night Before Christmas" by Clement Clarke Moore. This was the first composition where the characteristic gestures and actions of Santa Claus as well as details like the names of the reindeers appeared for the first time. This image was more fleshed out in the illustrations by famous artist Thomas Nast that appeared in the Christmas issues of Harper's magazine that came out from the 1860s to the 1880s. Moore's imaginations were further supplemented by Nast's fantastical details like Santa's workshop at the North Pole and Santa's list of the good and bad children of the world. Nast presented Santa as a rotund old man who loved children and was always on the side of the good.
In 1931, a series of illustrations for Coca-Cola advertisements depicted Santa Claus as a full human figure, in contrast to the elf-like representation of the character in Moore's poem. Rudolph, the ninth reindeer, with a red and shiny nose, was invented in 1939 by an advertising writer for the Montgomery Ward Company.
In modern illustrations and compositions, Santa Claus is shown as a fat, white-bearded old man who has a toy shop at the North Pole and who rides on his personal sleigh drawn by reindeers to reach the home of every good kid on Christmas eve to deliver presents at late hours of the night. Every year, kids write letters addressed to him with the belief that he will attend to their wishes and reward them with the presents they desire for their good behavior. This is a tradition that has continued for generations and is sure to stay on for years to come.
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