santa claus

Patara and the origin of Santa Claus

Posted on Posted in Culture

Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick and Father Christmas or shortly Santa is a legendary person who brings gifts to children on December 24th, the night before Christmas. Many people think that Santa lives in a cold country. Many countries such as Canada, United States and all Nordic countries claim that Santa is from their countries but actually he is not. Read my post to find out where he actually is from and some other less known facts about Saint Nicholas!

It is believed that Saint Nicholas is the forefather of modern Santa. Saint Nicholas was a Greek bishop and gift-giver of Demre (Myra) that is a small Mediterranean town in Turkey. He was born in Patara, the port city of Antic Lydian. He had a reputation for giving generous gifts to poor people. He was the saint of archers, sailors and children. During the Middle Ages on his name day, December 6th, children were receiving gifts in his honor. After reformation, Martin Luther started a custom of giving gift to children at Christmas to focus the interest of the children to Christ. He suggested the Christkind (Christ-child) as the bringer of gifts. In time the date changed and moved on December 24th.

Was he a fat, white-bearded and darling person? How did he look like? According to the paintings on the walls of churches, he had a white beard and wore a bishop gown.  In 1881 caricaturist Thomas Nast created the modern version of Santa Claus and it became popular in the United States and Canada.

In 1930 Coca Cola used Haddon Sundblom’s depiction of Santa Claus for the Christmas advertising campaign. After this campaign an urban legend was born. It is said that Santa was an invention of Coca-Cola and he wears red and white because of Coca-Cola brand’s colors. Obviously it was not true. Some other companies used Santa image for their advertising campaigns before Coca-Cola.

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