A Brief History of Santa Claus

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Ever wondered how Santa Claus came about? What`s the origin of this annually generous man? You finally get to read it today. Here’s how Santa Claus came about, and why he gives gifts to children. 

The Origin of Santa Claus

Santa Claus dates back to hundreds of years. It is a legend on a monk called St Nicholas, who was born around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra, in present-day Turkey. Nicholas was popular for his generosity. He gave away all his inherited wealth, helped the poor, paid people’s debts, among other acts of kindness. After his death, his anniversary was celebrated for a long time on December 6th. His story was first heard of in America in 1773, and again in 1774 when a New York newspaper reported that some Dutch families honored his anniversary. 

How Did the Name, “Santa Claus” Come about?

It began as “Sint Nikolaas,” the Dutch version of Saint$ Nicholas. This Dutch version then got shortened to “Sinter Klass.” Today, we have Santa Claus. In 1804, a member of the New York Historical Society, John Pintard, distributed woodcuts of St Nicholas at the society’s annual meeting. Today’s Santa Claus looks like the images in the background of the engravings back then. They were images of St Nicholas with stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace. 

Today’s Gift-Giving Santa Claus

In the 1840s, newspapers began to advertise Christmas sales, which featured images of what they had made of Santa Claus. In 1841, people were already going to a shop in Philadelphia to see a live version of Santa Claus, as depicted in the newspapers. After a while, this became a sales strategy for stores, as they began to present live Santa Claus to attract children and parents. This continued until this present time. 


Interesting, isn’t it? So when you see Santa Claus this Christmas holiday, you know just how it all began. It’s all in the spirit of giving.