The evolution of the figure known as Santa Claus may be traced through religious, mythological, and cultural portrayals from the fourth century A.D. to the present.
Through extensive research and quoted material, this paper will display how the legend of Santa Claus has grown and developed through history to become a modern day icon of the Christmas holiday season.
Carols, snow, mistletoe, cookies and milk. These are all synonymous with the Christmas season. However, for many, the true staple of Christmas is Santa Claus. Every child has felt the joy of Christmas Eve, spending time with family, leaving treats out for Santa, tossing and turning in their beds in anticipation for old St. Nick’s arrival. Although what Santa does is well known, his origins are slightly less familiar to most. The man we identify with Christmas has developed over a long time and has encountered many changes. “The original St. Nicholas is for the most part a shadowy figure, lost in historical mists and religious myths. (Myers 318).
Despite the fact that the idea of giving presents developed from St. Nicholas in the fourth century, the first characters that resemble our modern day Santa developed in the seventeenth century A.D. We acquire these figures from the English and the Dutch. Although this man is not the same as the modern Santa Claus, it is evident that these are his origins. “When the Dutch lost control of New Amsterdam to the English in the seventeenth century, Sinterklaas gradually became anglicized into Santa Claus and acquired some of the features of the English Father Christmas” (Myers 321).
Santa Claus is a character that has been changed and modified throughout history. Religion, mythology, and personal opinion have all had a significant impact on his development. However, Santa’s personality and objective have generally remained the same. Without a doubt Santa now holds a permanent position in society. “His dominion has steadily increased and it appears that he will reign all over Christendom as the king of Christmas” (Hottes 38).
THE MAN BEHIND THE LEGEND
Saint Nicholas was born in Myra in the late third century A.D. He was a native of Lycia, Asia Minor, where St. Paul established the faith. Nicholas was made the archbishop of Myra. He was dedicated to his faith and demonstrated this through his actions. He is credited with a few miracles. On one occasion he restored three boys to life after they were brutally murdered by an innkeeper. Nicholas also save a father from having to give his three daughters to prostitution. He threw in three bags of gold, enough to pay sufficient dowries for their marriages. These stories are a basis of his veneration as a patron of children. Although Nichols led a rewarding life, he faced many struggles along the way. “Greek historians say that he suffered imprisonment and torture for the faith with many other Christians, but...