Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St. Nick, no matter the name, the legend of this plump, jolly, gift-bringer is known to all. Or are they?

ANY KID Will tell you from the North Pole where Santa Claus is. However, his historical trip is much longer and more fantastic than his annual, one-night globe circumnavigation.

Formed in the Mediterranean during the Roman Empire, the progenitor of the early American Santa, his mythology evolved throughout northern Europe. He eventually adopted his now-familiar form on the shores of the New World. Who is this Santa’s ancestor, and how has he evolved over time?

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas?

Jolly Old Saint Nicholas?

The faithful observe St. Nicholas Day every December 6 in cities all over the world, with the majority taking place in Europe. St. Nicholas’s photos differ greatly, but none of them looks anything like the red-cheeked, white-bearded old man seen today everywhere.

Not by ancient artists, but using contemporary forensic facial reconstruction, one of the most convincing views of the true St. Nick, who lived in the third and fourth centuries, was produced.

Scholarly discussion about where the relics of the Greek Bishop’s rest continue to this day, although it was historically thought that during the 11th century, St. Nicholas’ bones were stolen by Italian sailors and carried to the Basilica di San Nicola crypt on the southeast coast of Italy. The saint’s skull and bones were recorded with x-ray images and thousands of precise measurements when the vault was restored in the 1950s.

Also Read, The best Christmas Carols to make your Christmas Merry

From Bishop to giver of gifts

Saint Nicholas

How did this St. Nicholas become the bringer of Christmas presents to the North Pole-dwelling? A Greek birth in the late third century, almost 280 A.D., was the first saint. In modern Turkey, he became the Bishop of Myra, a small Roman city. Nicholas was neither fat nor jolly, but during the Great Persecution in 303, when Bibles were burnt, priests made to renounce Christianity or face death, he developed a fiery reputation wiry and stubborn supporter of church doctrine.

Before the Roman sovereign Constantine ceased Christian persecution in 313 with the Edict of Milan, Nicholas defied these edicts and spent years in jail. Nicholas’ fame lived even after his death (in the middle of the fourth century on December 6, around 343). He was credited with many miracles, and admiration for him remains regardless of his Christmas relation to this day. From orphans to fishermen to inmates, he is the guardian of all kinds of creatures.

Among the saints, Nicholas came to fame because he was the patron of so many classes. By around 1200, University of Manitoba historian Gerry Bowler, author of Santa Claus: A Biography, clarified that because of two beautiful tales from his past, he is known as a patron of children and a magical gift-bringer.

In the best-known novel, when the young Bishop Nicholas secretly presents three bags of gold to his indebted father, which can be used for his dowries, three young girls are rescued from a life of prostitution.

“The another story is not so strongly known now but was tremendously well known in the Middle Ages,” Bowler said. Nicholas visited an inn whose keeper had just killed three boys and picked them up in cellar barrels with their dismembered corpses. Not only did the Bishop notice the murder, but he even resurrected the victims. “That was one of the things which made him the patron deity of children.”

But saints like Nicholas fell out of favor in much of northern Europe after the Protestant Reformation began in the 1500s. Bowler said, “That was problematic,” You still love your kids, but now who is going to bring them the gifts?”

Bowler said that the task went to baby Jesus in certain ways, and the date was shifted to Christmas instead of December 6. But the carrying ability of the baby is minimal. It’s also not very frightening,” But the infant’s carrying capacity is very limited. He’s not very scary either,” So the Christ kid was often given a scary apprentice to do the carrying of presents and the threatening of kids that doesn’t seem appropriate coming from the baby Jesus.”

Nicholas was again based on some of these frightening Germanic figures, no longer as a saint but as a menacing sidekick like Ru-Klaus (Rough Nicholas), Aschenklas (Ashy Nicholas), and Pelznickel (Furry Nicholas). Such statistics awaited positive behaviour or forced infants to suffer outcomes such as whippings or abductions. These lively characters would later feature Santa himself, unlike the jolly man in red.

Arriving in America

Santa Arriving in America

Children and families in the Netherlands actually declined to leave St. Nicholas as a gift-bringer. With them, they took Sinterklaas to the colonies of the New World, where the stories of the shaggy and terrifying Germanic gift bringers still persisted.

Yet Christmas wasn’t so much like a modern holiday in early America. In New England, the festival had been shunned, and elsewhere it had been a bit like the pagan Saturnalia that had once taken its place on the calendar. Bowler said,” ‘It was celebrated as a kind of outdoor, alcohol-fueled, rowdy community blowout,””That’s what it had become in England as well. And there was no particular, magical gift-bringer.”

Then, thanks to a series of poets and authors who strove to make Christmas a family event by reviving and remaking St. Nicholas, all that changed during the early decades of the 19th century.

In 1822, with no intention of contributing to the fledgeling Santa Claus movement, Clement Clarke Moore wrote “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” best remembered today as “The Night Before Christmas,” for his six brothers. The next year it was written anonymously. To this day, the plump, jolly Santa portrayed a sleigh pulled by eight familiar reindeer riding in it.

“It went viral,” said Bowler. It still allows much to the imagination, but familiar as the poem is. The 19th century saw Santa emerge in various colored garments, in sizes from small to large, and in several different guises. Bowler said, “I have a beautiful photo of him that looks almost exactly like George Washington riding a broomstick,”

It was not till the later 19th century, he said, that Santa’s image became standardized as a full-size adult, wearing red with white fur collar, venturing out in a reindeer-driven sleigh from the North Pole and keeping an eye on the actions of children.

Thomas Nast, a renowned political cartoonist in an era that included many, created the jolly, chubby, grandfatherly face of this Santa in no small degree. “However, Nast did leave him half-sized,” said Bowler, “and in what I think are rather inappropriate long johns.”

North America’s Santa, once firmly founded, then underwent a kind of reverse relocation to Europe, replacing the frightening gift bringers and embracing local names such as Père Noël (France) or Father Christmas (Great Britain). Bowler said, “What he’s done is pretty much tame these Grimm’s Fairy Tales-type characters from the late medieval days,”

The dilemma of Santa

The dilemma of Santa

Santa has definitely stirred up and tends to generate more than his fair share of controversy, though he obviously means well.

Santa Claus falls afoul of Josef Stalin in Russia. Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) was a favorite Christmas symbol before the Russian Revolution, followed by proto-Santas traits, such as the Dutch Sinterklaas. “When the Soviet Union was established, the communists prohibited the celebrations of Christmas and gift bringers,” Bowler said.

“Then in the 1930s, when Stalin necessary to create support, he permitted the resurgence of Grandfather Frost not as a Christmas present bringer but as a New Year’s gift-bringer,” added Bowler. Ultimately, efforts to displace Christmas in Russia were futile, as were USSR attempts to propagate throughout Europe a secular version of Grandfather Frost, complete with a blue jacket to deter Santa’s misunderstanding.

A politicized figure around the world, Santa remains. In the years shortly after World War II, American troops distributed their version of the jolly man around the world, and he was widely accepted, Bowler said, as a sign of American generosity in restoring war-ravaged lands.

However, today, people I many countries have Santa on their own naughty list, perhaps because, at the expense of the religious, he portrays the secular side of Christmas. Santa is refused often because he is not a resident. “In countries like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Austria, and Latin America, they all have super anti-Santa protests because they are trying to protect their indigenous Christmas present bringers and customs, and shield them from the North American Santa,” he said.

A growing interest in Santa Claus seems unlikely to deter such efforts. Still, their organizers can save him a few stops on his packed Christmas Eve schedule.