Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I DO Believe!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus… I am a firm believer in Santa Claus, his spirit and his unselfishness in spending his Christmas Eve travelling the world delivering presents. Face it, who would want to be flown around the world in an open sleigh, in the freezing cold just to deliver presents to good little girls and boys when he could be sitting at home before a roaring fire and drinking egg nog? To me, he represents the true nature of Christmas – giving to others and spreading the joy of the Season.

Santa Claus has always intrigued me. Where did he come from? What were his origins? I, like Jean with Joseph, had a mission: to find out the origins of the Santa Claus legends. So, I went to the Net and found more than I could possibly put in this blog. A lot came from Wikipedia and even more came from other Santa Claus sites (who knew there was so much information on the jolly old elf?). Here goes a condensed version:

Saint Nicholas was born in Para, Turkey in 270 A.D and became a Catholic Bishop of Myra. Legend has it that he was famous for his gifts to the poor. One day, upon learning that a poor Christian had no dowry for his three daughters (who would be forced into prostitution if they didn’t marry), Nicholas took a bag of gold and threw it down the chimney of the poor Christian man, giving the girls a dowry. Thus the legend of St. Nick coming down the chimney was born. Nicholas was named a saint in the 19th century.

In the Germanic lands, Odin led a great hunting party during Yule. He rode an eight-legged horse, called Slepnir through the sky on this hunt ( eight reindeer anyone?). Children would leave their boots by the fire, filled with carrots and hay. Odin would reward these good children with gifts in exchange for the food for Slepnir.

In the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg, Saint Nicholas was called Sinterklaas and was aided by helpers. He gives out chocolate and spices to good children. His feast day, December 6th (the day St. Nicholas died), was the date that presents were given out. In the 16th and 17th century, the date was changed to Christmas Eve. I guess the name “Santa Claus” came from Sinterklaas.

In Britain, a figure named Father Christmas came into being somewhere around the 17th century. He was portrayed as a jolly bearded man who was dressed in a long, green robe. He was the ghost of Christmas Present in Charles Dickens’s festive classic “A Christmas Carol.”

All of these legends merged in the United States. The first time the name Santa Claus appeared was in Washington Irving’s “A History of New York” where he was making fun of the Dutch in New York. Then, in 1823 a poem was published in the Troy, New York Sentinel which is known today as “The Night Before Christmas” and has been attributed to Clement Clark Moore. All the present day legends about Santa Claus came from this poem, including the sleigh and the eight tiny reindeer.

The present-day pictures of Santa Claus came from, drum roll, Coca Cola. It was an advertising campaign in the 1930s. The reason his suit is red and white (I don’t know about this because St. Nicholas wore red as a Bishop) is because those were the colors of Coke. Guess you can choose to believe this or not.

So, there you have it, the legend of Santa Claus in a nutshell. I love Santa Claus. He portrays the anticipation and the excitement of Christmas, along with the good will of the Season. When my son was younger, I got more excited than him about Santa coming on Christmas Eve. Do you have any fond memories of Santa? Do you believe?


  1. My last Christmas at home, I was not quite 18. My sister was 9, my grandmother (who was visiting) was pushing 70. The three of us stayed up all night, giggling, screaming every time we heard a noise, sending my grandmother downstairs to check the time (apparently there wasn't a watch or bedside table in this room). My father (across the hall) kept growling at us to shut UP, but we didn't listen. We listened for Santa, and waited until it was late enough (5 am, or so) to go downstairs. I am perfectly willing to throw all logic out the window to believe. Maybe this is why Miracle on 34th Street is one of my all time favorite movies.

  2. LJ, doesn't Santa make it all more exciting? The gifts and all? My sister and I would lay in the bed at my grandmother's listening for the reindeer on the roof. She usually heard them when I couldn't. Sharing these memories with your loved ones makes it so special. And I love Miracle on 34th Street but the old one with Natalie Wood. I watch it every year.

  3. Cheryl, definitely the original Miracle! The others never appealed to me as well. And yes, to Santa making it all more exciting.

  4. You two must get a copy of the Polar Express, if you don't already. (The book; the movie won't do.) It's 32 pages of pure magic.

  5. I still hang a stocking every year though lately Santa seems to skip my apartment. :-( But I still believe. With my boys grown, the Santa magic had died off until my granddaughter came along. Now it's alive and well again -- at least for a while.

    When I lived in Germany I used to put my shoes outside the door on St. Nicholas Day. The stores had candy and treats for the shoes. They even sold bundles of sticks for bad little girls and boys. It was fun to celebrate another tradition.


  6. Yes, LJ, you are definitely right!

    Jean, I've seen the movie but never read the book. I will have to do that.

    I still hang my stocking too, PM. I get funny treats, like licorice coal or reindeer poop (candy). I envy you the grandchild. The magic is so much more through a child's eyes. Neat about the treats on St. Nicholas day. I'd probably get sticks.

  7. Santa Claus left me coal instead of a gift one year when I had pre-opened the present to see what it was before its time. There was a note saying if it ever happen again I wouldn't get anything.

    I never tested this out. I was afraid Santa was Old Testament like my dad.

  8. I love that the belief in Santa Claus is universal in some form or another. Origins are cool, aren't they? I find them very fascinating. Thanks for sharing this, Cheryl!

    There is no greater gift than to give a child something to believe in.

  9. Not you Stephanie! Coal! 'Fraid I got some too one time; for cutting my sister's doll's hair. Oh well...

    Kathy, children make the magic if you give them the tools.