10:30 p.m., Dec 24)
Legend of Santa Claus a mix of fact and
By Fred Sherwin
may be little more than a myth to millions of people around
the world, but the legend that is Santa Claus is actually
based on a real person.
real-life St. Nicholas lived during the fourth century
AD in what is now modern-day Turkey. As the bishop of
Myra, the real Nicholas reputedly gave marriage dowries
of gold to three girls whom poverty would otherwise have
forced into slavery.
miracles also included restoring the lives of three children
who had been chopped up by a butcher and placed in brine,
and saving the lives of sailors by halting a storm at
the Middle Ages, devotion to the patron saint of children
and sailors stretched throughout much of Europe and Russia.
the Reformation, devotion to St. Nicholas died out in
all the Protestant countries of Europe except Holland.
There his legend lived on as Sinterklaas.
the Dutch first settled in the New World in the 17th century,
they brought their devotion to Sinterklass with them.
Before long Sinterklass became Santa Claus and the legend
of St. Nicholas was coloured with Nordic tales of a magician
who punished naughty children and rewarded good children
jolly old elf we celebrate today was sealed in our collective
imagination after poet Clement Moore penned the now famous
Twas the Night Before Christmas, as a gift to his
family in 1822.
the poem, Santa is portrayed as a rotund elf with a miniature
sleigh and eight tiny reindeer. Rudolph was actually a
1939 creation of the Montgomery Ward advertising department.
actually borrowed some of his concept of Santa Claus from
earlier writers such as Washington Irving who penned A
History of New York in 1807, in which St. Nicholas rode
over the treetops in a wagon.
1821, William Gilley wrote a poem about Santeclaus
who was dressed in fur and drove a sleigh driven by a
was Moores poem, however, that would inspire caricaturist
Thomas Nast to come up with the image weve come
to associate with the present day Santa Claus.
engravings featuring a portly Santa in a red suit with
a wide black belt ran in the American magazine Harpers
Weekly between 1863 and 1886.
The engravings featured Santa in a workshop, reading letters,
checking his list and so on.
1885, Nast fixed Santas address with a drawing of
two children looking at a map of the world on which Santas
journey was etched from the North Pole to the United States.
final transformation evolved through a series of Coca-Cola
ads illustrated by Haddon Sundblom from 1931 to 1964.
still holds the trademark for their Santa design and Christmas
ads featuring Sundbloms Santa continue to this day.
for Santas elves, their origin is murkier, although
Europes Christkindlein, or Christ child, travelled
with dwarf-like helpers while delivering gifts in secret
idea of Santa delivering gifts at night has also been
adopted throughout the world, although his delivery methods
differ from culture to culture.
countries like Holland and Spain, children leave their
shoes under the tree filled with hay and sugar for Santas
horses. When the horses have their fill, the children
are repayed with gifts.
Sweden, a reindeerless Santa has to pull his sack of gifts
through the snow.
story was made possible thanks to the generous support
of our local business partners.)
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