Sunday, December 1, 2013

Origins of Santa Claus

With the Christmas season kicking off in full-force, we at want to wish everyone a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!  And in thinking about this time of year, we’d like to give a brief explanation of how Santa Claus came to being.

The concept of a Father Gift-Bringer (Father Frost as well) has been in existence in Europe for thousands of generations as a mid-winter celebration.  In the northern European latitudes during winter, it would be dark most of the day, and this celebration was a way of lifting spirits.

Originally it was not Christian-based, but was connected to Odin, the Nordic father of all gods (as an aside, Odin had many sons, including Thor, god of thunder of the marvel comics and recent movies), with the reindeers being compared to Odin’s eight-legged horse.

As these mid-winter festivals were Christianized through Roman influence into Europe, Saint Nicholas replaced Odin as Father Christmas around the 4th century.  Why Saint Nicholas (Nicholas of Myra as it happens)?  Simple:  he was known for his charity to the impoverished and pious.  The translation of Saint Nicholas into the Flemish/Germanic Sinterklaas easily becomes Santa Claus when translated into English.

As the centuries went by, the mid-winter festivals merged with the birth of Christ in Christian countries as a time to recognize His birth while maintaining the practice of joyful gift-giving during the long winter days.  Over the last century, the commercialization of Christmas has become significant (obviously!), while also becoming more secular, with a greater focus on non-denominational Santa Claus.

And where did the term “Yule” originate?  It is in reference to Nordic terms that described mid-winter items and religious activities that were eventually absorbed into Christian festivals.

So from all of us at, have a wonderful holiday season!

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