Yes, MCHS, there is a Santa Claus

Children often come up with loads of questions, and as the holiday season approaches, many of those questions might be about jolly old Saint Nick. For example, where Santa came from, or who was the “first Santa” might be questions on the minds of little ones this December. Well, the Santa Claus who is popular today was not always the same big, jolly man in a red suit.  In fact, Santa has a long history and various identies around the world.

The first “Santa” is thought to be a bishop from Turkey who lived around the year 280. This bishop, Nicholas, was said to be a man of great charity, and devoted much of his time to serving the poor. One event in particular inspired the well-known legend of Santa Claus. In the town of Myra, where Nicholas lived, there were three sisters who were soon to be married. Unfortunately, their father did not have the money to pay for their bridal dowries. Nicholas heard of this, and for three consecutive nights, slipped money in the stockings they hung up to dry at night. Obviously, this story is not unlike that of the modern Santa, who slips goodies into stockings at Christmastime. Yet, this is only the beginning of how Santa came to be.

With the exploration of the New World came the introduction of jolly old St. Nick. The most influential group to bring their tradition of Santa was the Dutch. Also known as Sinter Klaus, Santa Claus (for short) gained popularity as a gift-giving symbol of Christmas in America. Yet it was not until the poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas was popularized, that Santa was seen as a plump, jolly man with his eight trusty reindeer. From here, many stores took ahold of this Christmas icon to advertise their products, which helped him grow more into who his is known as today. Now, Mr. Claus is known by his trademark red suit, and various shopping mall appearances.

Santa is celebrated throughout many parts of the world. In Holland, Sinterklaas visits in early November to distribute gifts, along with a companion. In Great Britain, letters are written to Father Christmas, and then burned in a fireplace so that they can reach him at the North Pole. In Portugal, many families await the arrival of Pai Natal, or Father Christmas, from Christmas Eve until Christmas morning. Finally, in Australia, Santa Claus makes many appearances at beaches, riding a surfboard, come Christmas Day.

Although his is known by many names, the joyful, gift-giving Santa, started off as a simple man who gave from the goodness of his heart. He is a symbol of charity and love throughout parts of the world. This Christmas, take time to get away from the hectic holiday rush, and get back to the spirit of Christmas, embracing Santa’s generosity in any way you can.

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