Who hasn’t heard of Santa? We’re thinking there’s very few, but if you really don’t know him, let us introduce him to you. Santa Claus is the jolly old man who mysteriously fits down the chimney to give away presents to kids in time for Christmas morning. It can happen!
Of course, we all have our own fun memories of Santa. While some write letters to him filled with the things they wish to see on Christmas morning, others simply leave cookies by the fireplace, hoping that he might show up and take some of them with him in his journey. But no matter how fun your memories of Christmas are, you will be surprised that the magical figure that is Santa hides a colorful and complex history.
Below are some things you need to know about Santa Claus.
Santa Claus is not the only creature that uses the chimney when giving away presents
Aside from Santa, there are plenty other gift-givers who use the chimney when giving away presents. These include St. Nicholas and old Italian mythical figure Befana. While St. Nicholas simply tossed coins down the chimney so he remains clean, Befana is often seen covered in soot as she struggles to reach the bottom of the chimney.
According to historians, these figures use the chimney because it is considered the center of the home, literally and spiritually.
Santa Claus might have been derived from Saint Nicholas of Myra
A Greek bishop in the fourth century, St. Nicholas of Myra became known for giving gifts to the poor. He is usually portrayed with a white beard. Every December 6, during the Middle Ages, his day is celebrated by giving gifts to kids.
But after the Protestant Reformation, the tradition of celebrating saints was abolished. Nevertheless, people continued giving and receiving gifts.
People started offering treats to Santa long ago
The tradition of leaving treats for Santa has been observed in various places all over the world. While people in the United States and Canada put milk and cookies in the fireplace, Australians and Brits leave sherry and mince pies.
Well, giving treats in exchange for goodness has been a common practice since the old times. In fact, it is even done during Halloween.
Santa Claus does a great job at advertising products
Because of a Coca-Cola ad in the 1930s, Santa and his red-and-white attire became very popular. There was even an urban legend suggesting Santa was introduced in order to sell the soda.
However, that is not really true. Santa’s image had already been used to sell other products before the Coca-Cola commercial came out. But among all, Santa drinking a bottle of Coke has been the most successful marketing campaign.
Santa’s look has changed many times
Before Santa’s look became what we know today, he was illustrated in his red-and-white and green outfits. But thanks to the poem The Night Before Christmas, the world of what Santa looked like was forever cemented in our visions.
Santa might be derived from the Norse god Odin
For some historians, Odin and Santa have similarities. During Christmas, Odin was believed to traverse the dark skies in a journey known as the Wild Hunt. He gave away gifts and had the long white beard Santa became famous for…
Santa didn’t always have reindeer
Santa didn’t always rely on his reindeer as a means of transportation. He’s also known to use other animals such as cows, horses, goats, and deer. The use of reindeer only became popular because he lives in the North Pole.
Here’s another interesting fact about his reindeer: Rudolph—and his red nose—was only added to his crew in 1939.
Santa says he lives near the North Pole, but nobody knows exactly where it is
Santa is often portrayed living up in the snowy Arctic, where he and his team of elves spend the entire year making and wrapping toys and treats for kids all across the world. Despite his works, nobody knows where he lives exactly. As a matter of fact, many countries claim that Santa lives in their nation, including Canada and other Scandinavian countries.
Santa hires elves to craft toys
Because there are plenty of toys to make in a year, Santa only hires fast-working elves.
Based on the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas, which is also called The Night Before Christmas, Santa is described as a “jolly old elf”. This only means that he himself is a mystical being.
Santa is popular because of his “Ho-Ho-Ho”
Santa’s belly laugh was first “heard” in The Night Before Christmas. Although it wasn’t really written, people assumed so because of his belly shake.
It is said that “ho-ho-ho” is meant to portray the deep laugh produced by a large person while sounding friendly and cheerful.