The strict saint took on some aspects of earlier European deities, like the Roman Saturn or the Norse Odin, who appeared as white-bearded men and had magical powers like flight. He also ensured that kids toed the line by saying their prayers and practicing good behavior. But after the Protestant Reformation began in the s, saints like Nicholas fell out of favor across much of northern Europe.
Bowler said that, in many cases, that job fell to baby Jesus, and the date was moved to Christmas rather than December 6. Some of these scary Germanic figures again were based on Nicholas, no longer as a saint but as a threatening sidekick like Ru-klaus Rough Nicholas , Aschenklas Ashy Nicholas , and Pelznickel Furry Nicholas. These figures expected good behavior or forced children to suffer consequences like whippings or kidnappings. Dissimilar as they seem to the jolly man in red, these colorful characters would later figure in the development of Santa himself.
Related: "Who Is Krampus? Explaining the Horrific Christmas Devil. In the Netherlands, kids and families simply refused to give up St. Nicholas as a gift bringer. They brought Sinterklaas with them to New World colonies, where the legends of the shaggy and scary Germanic gift bringers also endured.
But in early America Christmas wasn't much like the modern holiday. The holiday was shunned in New England, and elsewhere it had become a bit like the pagan Saturnalia that once occupied its place on the calendar. And there was no particular, magical gift bringer. Then, during the early decades of the 19th century, all that changed thanks to a series of poets and writers who strove to make Christmas a family celebration—by reviving and remaking St.
Find out how Old Saint Nick became a beloved figure all over the world, and how his image has changed over the years. Washington Irving's book Knickerbocker's History of New York first portrayed a pipe-smoking Nicholas soaring over the rooftops in a flying wagon, delivering presents to good girls and boys and switches to bad ones.
In an anonymous illustrated poem entitled "The Children's Friend" went much further in shaping the modern Santa and associating him with Christmas. Nicholas, stripped him of any religious characteristics, and dressed this Santa in the furs of those shaggy Germanic gift bringers. That figure brought gifts to good girls and boys, but he also sported a birch rod, the poem noted, that "directs a Parent's hand to use when virtue's path his sons refuse.
Nicholas ," better known today as "The Night Before Christmas," for his six children, with no intention of adding to the fledgling Santa Claus phenomenon. It was published anonymously the next year, and to this day the plump, jolly Santa described therein rides a sleigh driven by eight familiar reindeer. But familiar as the poem is, it still leaves much to the imagination, and the 19th century saw Santa appear in different-colored clothing, in sizes from miniature to massive, and in a variety of different guises.
It wasn't until the late 19th century, he added, that the image of Santa became standardized as a full-size adult, dressed in red with white fur trim, venturing out from the North Pole in a reindeer-driven sleigh and keeping an eye on children's behavior. The jolly, chubby, grandfatherly face of this Santa was largely created by Thomas Nast , the great political cartoonist in an era that featured many. Claus in the popular imagination. Seabury Quinn 's novel Roads draws from historical legends to tell the story of Santa and the origins of Christmas.
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Other modern additions to the "story" of Santa include Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer , the 9th and lead reindeer immortalized in a Gene Autry song, written by a Montgomery Ward copywriter. By the end of the 20th century, the reality of mass mechanized production became more fully accepted by the Western public. That shift was reflected in the modern depiction of Santa's residence—now often humorously portrayed as a fully mechanized production and distribution facility, equipped with the latest manufacturing technology, and overseen by the elves with Santa and Mrs.
Claus as executives or managers. Santa's main distribution center is a sight to behold. A real-time warehouse management system WMS is of course required to run such a complex. The facility makes extensive use of task interleaving, literally combining dozens of DC activities putaway, replenishing, order picking, sleigh loading, cycle counting in a dynamic queue The WMS and transportation system are fully integrated, allowing the elves to make optimal decisions that balance transportation and order picking and other DC costs.
Unbeknownst to many, Santa actually has to use many sleighs and fake Santa drivers to get the job done Christmas Eve, and the transportation management system TMS optimally builds thousands of consolidated sacks that maximize cube utilization and minimize total air miles. In the actor Leedham Bantock became the first actor to be identified as having played Santa Claus in a film.
Santa Claus , which he also directed, included scenes photographed in a limited, two-tone color process and featured the use of detailed models. Santa has been described as a positive male cultural icon :. Santa is really the only cultural icon we have who's male, does not carry a gun, and is all about peace, joy, giving, and caring for other people. That's part of the magic for me, especially in a culture where we've become so commercialized and hooked into manufactured icons. Santa is much more organic, integral, connected to the past, and therefore connected to the future.
Many television commercials, comic strips and other media depict this as a sort of humorous business, with Santa's elves acting as a sometimes mischievously disgruntled workforce, cracking jokes and pulling pranks on their boss. President Reagan steps in, fires all of Santa's helpers, and replaces them with out-of-work air traffic controllers an obvious reference to the air traffic controllers' strike , resulting in a riot before Santa vindictively rehires them in humiliating new positions such as his reindeer.
Claus were running a sweatshop over there The original elves were ugly, traveled with Santa to throw bad kids a beatin', and gave the good ones toys. In Kyrgyzstan, a mountain peak was named after Santa Claus, after a Swedish company had suggested the location be a more efficient starting place for present-delivering journeys all over the world, than Lapland. In the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek , a Santa Claus Festival was held on 30 December , with government officials attending.
The events are seen as moves to boost tourism in Kyrgyzstan. On 9 September where a total of 12, people dressed up as Santa or Santa's helper which previously brought down the record of 3,, which was set during the Santa Dash event in Liverpool City Centre in The tradition of Santa Claus entering dwellings through the chimney is shared by many European seasonal gift-givers. In pre-Christian Norse tradition, Odin would often enter through chimneys and fire holes on the solstice. In the tale of Saint Nicholas, the saint tossed coins through a window, and, in a later version of the tale, down a chimney when he finds the window locked.
In Dutch artist Jan Steen 's painting, The Feast of Saint Nicholas , adults and toddlers are glancing up a chimney with amazement on their faces while other children play with their toys. The hearth was held sacred in primitive belief as a source of beneficence, and popular belief had elves and fairies bringing gifts to the house through this portal.
Santa's entrance into homes on Christmas Eve via the chimney was made part of American tradition through the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" where the author described him as an elf. In the United States and Canada, children traditionally leave Santa a glass of milk and a plate of cookies ; in Britain and Australia, he is sometimes given sherry or beer, and mince pies instead. In Denmark, Norway and Sweden, it is common for children to leave him rice porridge with cinnamon sugar instead. In Ireland it is popular to give him Guinness or milk, along with Christmas pudding or mince pies.
In Hungary, St. They get sweets in a bag if they were good, and a golden colored birch switch if not. On Christmas Eve "Little Jesus" comes and gives gifts for everyone. New Zealand, British, Australian, Irish, Canadian, and American children also leave a carrot for Santa's reindeer, and are told that if they are not good all year round that they will receive a lump of coal in their stockings, although the actual practice of giving coal is now considered archaic.
Children following the Dutch custom for sinterklaas will "put out their shoe" leave hay and a carrot for his horse in a shoe before going to bed, sometimes weeks before the sinterklaas avond. The next morning they will find the hay and carrot replaced by a gift; often, this is a marzipan figurine.
Naughty children were once told that they would be left a roe a bundle of sticks instead of sweets, but this practice has been discontinued. Last minute rituals for children before going to bed include aligning stockings at the mantelpiece or other place where Santa cannot fail to see them, peeking up the chimney in homes with a fireplace , glancing out a window and scanning the heavens for Santa's sleigh, and in homes without a fireplace unlocking an exterior door so Santa can easily enter the house.
Tags on gifts for children are sometimes signed by their parents "From Santa Claus" before the gifts are laid beneath the tree.
VIDEO Message from Santa Claus Father Christmas in Lapland in Finland
Ho ho ho is the way that many languages write out how Santa Claus laughs. Merry Christmas! The laughter of Santa Claus has long been an important attribute by which the character is identified, but it also does not appear in many non- English -speaking countries. The traditional Christmas poem A Visit from St. Nicholas relates that Santa has:. Santa Claus's home traditionally includes a residence and a workshop where he creates—often with the aid of elves or other supernatural beings—the gifts he delivers to good children at Christmas.
Some stories and legends include a village, inhabited by his helpers, surrounding his home and shop. There is also a city named North Pole in Alaska where a tourist attraction known as the "Santa Claus House" has been established. Each Nordic country claims Santa's residence to be within their territory. In Denmark, he is said to live in Greenland near Uummannaq. In Sweden, the town of Mora has a theme park named Tomteland. The national postal terminal in Tomteboda in Stockholm receives children's letters for Santa.
Santa Claus appears in the weeks before Christmas in department stores or shopping malls, or at parties. The practice of this has been credited [ dubious — discuss ] to James Edgar , as he started doing this in in his Brockton, Massachusetts department store. Santa's function is either to promote the store's image by distributing small gifts to children, or to provide a seasonal experience to children by listening to their wishlist while having them sit on his knee a practice now under review by some organisations in Britain,  and Switzerland .
Sometimes a photograph of the child and Santa are taken. Having a Santa set up to take pictures with children is a ritual that dates back at least to The area set up for this purpose is festively decorated, usually with a large throne, and is called variously "Santa's Grotto", "Santa's Workshop" or a similar term. In the United States, the most notable of these is the Santa at the flagship Macy's store in New York City—he arrives at the store by sleigh in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the last float, and his court takes over a large portion of one floor in the store.
Essayist David Sedaris is known for the satirical SantaLand Diaries he kept while working as an elf in the Macy's display, which were turned into a famous radio segment and later published. In Canada, malls operated by Oxford Properties established a process by which autistic children could visit Santa Claus at the mall without having to contend with crowds.
In , the Southcentre Mall in Calgary was the first mall to offer this service. There are schools offering instruction on how to act as Santa Claus. It blossomed into a second career for him, and after appearing in parades and malls,  he appeared on the cover of the American monthly Boston Magazine as Santa. Meath was a board member of the international organization called Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas. Writing letters to Santa Claus has been a Christmas tradition for children for many years. These letters normally contain a wishlist of toys and assertions of good behavior.
Some social scientists have found that boys and girls write different types of letters. Girls generally write longer but more polite lists and express the nature of Christmas more in their letters than in letters written by boys. Girls also more often request gifts for other people. Many postal services allow children to send letters to Santa Claus. These letters may be answered by postal workers or outside volunteers. A letter to Santa is often a child's first experience of correspondence. Written and sent with the help of a parent or teacher, children learn about the structure of a letter, salutations, and the use of an address and postcode.
The USPS Santa letter answering effort started in out of the historic James Farley Post Office  in New York, and since has been called "Operation Santa" to ensure that letters to Santa are adopted by charitable organizations, major corporations, local businesses and individuals in order to make children's holiday dreams come true from coast to coast.
Other interesting Santa letter processing information, according to the UPU's study and survey of national postal operations, are: . Canada Post has a special postal code for letters to Santa Claus, and since over 13, Canadian postal workers have volunteered to write responses. This postal code, in which zeroes are used for the letter "O", is consistent with the alternating letter-number format of all Canadian postal codes.
Sometimes children's charities answer letters in poor communities, or from children's hospitals, and give them presents they would not otherwise receive. From to , the program replied to approximately "one million letters or more a year, and in total answered more than In Britain it was traditional for some to burn the Christmas letters on the fire so that they would be magically transported by the wind to the North Pole.
However this has been found to be less efficient than the use of the normal postal service, and this tradition is dying out in modern times, especially with few homes having open fires. In Mexico and other Latin American countries, besides using the mail, sometimes children wrap their letters to a small helium balloon, releasing them into the air so Santa magically receives them.
In , the Brazilian National Post Service, " Correios " formed partnerships with public schools and social institutions to encourage children to write letters and make use of postcodes and stamps. In , the Brazilian National Post Service, " Correios " answered almost two million children's letters, and spread some seasonal cheer by donating , Christmas gifts to some of Brazil's neediest citizens. He receives over , letters every year from over different countries with Togo being the most recent country added to the list.
The post office welcomes , visitors a year, with 70, visitors in December alone. Children can also receive a letter from Santa through a variety of private agencies and organizations, and on occasion public and private cooperative ventures. An example of a public and private cooperative venture is the opportunity for expatriate and local children and parents to receive postmarked mail and greeting cards from Santa during December in the Finnish Embassy in Beijing, People's Republic of China,  Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi , Finland, and the People's Republic of China Postal System's Beijing International Post Office.
The "Santa Letter" market generally relies on the internet as a medium for ordering such letters rather than retail stores. A number of websites created by various organizations track Santa Claus each year. The Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup, received the first call for Santa and responded by telling children that there were signs on the radar that Santa was indeed heading south from the North Pole. In the past, many local television stations in the United States and Canada likewise claimed they "tracked Santa Claus" in their own metropolitan areas through the stations' meteorologists.
Many other websites became available year-round, devoted to Santa Claus and purport to keep tabs on his activities in his workshop. Many of these websites also include email addresses which allow children to send email to Santa Claus.
Christmas Fun for DC Kids: December 22-25, 2018
Some websites, such as Santa's page on Microsoft's Windows Live Spaces , however have used or still use " bots " to compose and send email replies, with occasional unfortunate results. In addition to providing holiday-themed entertainment, "Santa tracking" websites raise interest in space technology and exploration ,  serve to educate children in geography. Santa Claus has partial Christian roots in Saint Nicholas , particularly in the high church denominations that practice the veneration of him, in addition to other saints.
In light of this, the character has sometimes been the focus of controversy over the holiday and its meanings. Some Christians, particularly Calvinists and Puritans , disliked the idea of Santa Claus, as well as Christmas in general, believing that the lavish celebrations were not in accordance with their faith. Condemnation of Christmas was prevalent among the 17th-century English Puritans and Dutch Calvinists who banned the holiday as either pagan or Roman Catholic.
The American colonies established by these groups reflected this view. Tolerance for Christmas increased after the Restoration but the Puritan opposition to the holiday persisted in New England for almost two centuries. Mary Baker Eddy , the founder of the Christian Science movement, wrote: "the children should not be taught that Santa Claus has aught to do with this [Christmas] pastime.
A deceit or falsehood is never wise. Too much cannot be done towards guarding and guiding well the germinating and inclining thought of childhood. To mould aright the first impressions of innocence, aids in perpetuating purity and in unfolding the immortal model, man in His image and likeness. Under the Marxist—Leninist doctrine of state atheism in the Soviet Union after its foundation in , Christmas celebrations—along with other religious holidays—were prohibited as a result of the Soviet antireligious campaign.
The government of the People's Republic of China officially espouses state atheism,  and has conducted antireligious campaigns to this end. At that time, sleighs were how you got about Manhattan. Writing in Mothering , writer Carol Jean-Swanson makes similar points, noting that the original figure of St. Nicholas gave only to those who were needy and that today Santa Claus seems to be more about conspicuous consumption :.
Our jolly old Saint Nicholas reflects our culture to a T, for he is fanciful, exuberant, bountiful, over-weight, and highly commercial. He also mirrors some of our highest ideals: childhood purity and innocence, selfless giving, unfaltering love, justice, and mercy. What child has ever received a coal for Christmas? The problem is that, in the process, he has become burdened with some of society's greatest challenges: materialism, corporate greed, and domination by the media.
Here, Santa carries more in his baggage than toys alone! In the Czech Republic, a group of advertising professionals started a website against Santa Claus, a relatively recent phenomenon in that country.
I'm against Santa in my country only. In the United Kingdom, Father Christmas was historically depicted wearing a green cloak. A law in the U. The law came to attention when the beer brand Bud Light attempted to use its mascot Spuds MacKenzie in a Santa Claus outfit during a December ad campaign; Bud Light was forced to stop using the imagery.
Psychologists generally differentiate between telling fictional stories that feature Santa Claus and actively deceiving a child into believing that Santa Claus is real. Imaginative play , in which children know that Santa Claus is only a character in a story but pretend that he is real, just like they pretend that superheroes or other fictional characters are real, is widely believed to be valuable.
However, actively deceiving a child into believing in Santa Claus's real-world existence, sometimes even to the extent of fabricating false evidence to convince them despite their growing natural doubts, does not result in imaginative play and can promote credulity in the face of strong evidence against Santa Claus's existence. Various psychologists and researchers have wrestled with the ways that young children are convinced of the existence of Santa Claus, and have wondered whether children's abilities to critically weigh real-world evidence may be undermined by their belief in this or other imaginary figures.
For example, University of Texas psychology professor Jacqueline Woolley helped conduct a study that found, to the contrary, that children seemed competent in their use of logic, evidence, and comparative reasoning even though they might conclude that Santa Claus or other fanciful creatures were real:. The adults they count on to provide reliable information about the world introduce them to Santa.
Then his existence is affirmed by friends, books, TV and movies. It is also validated by hard evidence: the half-eaten cookies and empty milk glasses by the tree on Christmas morning. In other words, children do a great job of scientifically evaluating Santa. And adults do a great job of duping them. Woolley posited that it is perhaps "kinship with the adult world" that causes children not to be angry that they were lied to for so long. Typical objections to presenting Santa Claus as a literally real person, rather than a story, include:. With no greater good at the heart of this lie than having some fun, some have charged that the deception is more about the parents, their short-term happiness in seeing children excited about Santa Claus, and their nostalgic unwillingness to prolong the age of magical thinking , than it is about the children.
Others, however, see little harm in the belief in Santa Claus. Psychologist Tamar Murachver said that because it is a cultural, not parental, lie, it does not usually undermine parental trust. Spokesperson Vicki Hyde said, "It would be a hard-hearted parent indeed who frowned upon the innocent joys of our children's cultural heritage. Where We Met Puzzle. Related Categories.
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