Father Christmas

Dose of Christmas Spirit

Mystery. Tradition.

Where did he come from? Was he ever a real person? Did those nine reindeer really fly?

Questions aside, there is one thing that everybody knows to be true: throughout childhood, Santa Claus is a huge part of people’s lives. As children, people could never figure out how a red clad man could have  delivered billions of toys across the world in less than 24 hours, not to mention the nine flying reindeer and all that cookie eating…

Believe it or not, the fictional character is based on a real person. Less than two thousand years ago, around the time 280 AD, a monk by the name of St. Nicholas lived in what is now known as Turkey. As the legend goes, he gave away all of his wealth and traveled to different places to help the poor, and people called him the protector of sailors and children. On Dec. 6, families used to have large feasts to honor St. Nicholas.

However, America was not introduced to St. Nicholas until the beginning of the Revolution. News articles featured Dutch families who celebrated on Dec. 6.

Consequently, there are many different names for St. Nick, but the one most people know him by, Santa Claus, is derived from his Dutch name ‘Sinter Klaas.’ In the 18th century, Santa-esque figures were appearing all over the world. In Switzerland, Kris Kringle delivered gifts to Swiss children who behaved all year long. Pere Noel was famous in France, and a gift-giving witch rides her broom down chimneys to bring gifts to Italian children. There are all different types of Santa Clauses, but one thing remains the same; they all give presents to children who deserve them.

But what about the children who were not so ‘deserving?’

Rumor has it that naughty children get coal in their stockings instead of candies or little gifts. The coal legend all began when La Befana, the ‘Santa of Italy,’ didn’t go with three Magi who wanted to take gifts to baby Jesus. After realizing her mistake, she was never able to take gifts to Jesus, and from that moment on, she began to take small presents to children. On Jan. 6, every Italian child goes downstairs to see what La Befana left in their stockings. Good children received little dolls and candies, but the bad children, however, received coal, garlic, or even onions.

 Another mystery is Claus’s ninth reindeer, the cute red-nosed Rudolph. He did not come into play until 100 years after the adaptation of the other eight reindeer, and was created by Robert L. Mays, who also wrote the classic ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.

 So the truth has been revealed! Santa Claus is real (to a certain extent), and the fog has been lifted. Even as people grow into adults, this Christmas fantasy will always hold a special place everyone’s hearts, and this tradition will pass onto future children, and then grandchildren, and so on.