Where does Santa Claus come from?

 

There is hardly anything that can match the joy of a child coming under a Christmas tree in the early hours of the morning to see what presents Santa has brought him. Maybe the kid’s only regret in that moment is not having managed to catch a glimpse of the merry long-bearded old man. Yet, if no one ever sees him, is it true that he really exists? Here is what we have found out.

Flash points

  • Santa Claus’ image
    is based on Saint Nicholas, who is known mainly as the children’s patron. According to Basilica, the press center of Romanian Patriarchate, he lived in the 4th century (arround years 270 – 340 A.D.) and was bishop of Myra, a port town in the Mediterranean, which is situated in today’s Turkey. Nicholas was born in a well-off family and lost both his parents at a young age, inheriting their fortune. Legend has it that he was often seen dressed in the white-red bishop’s robe, riding a donkey, while offering presents to children. It is said also that in order to help a poor nobleman marry his daughters, one night he climbed on the roof of the man’s house and dropped a bag of gold through the chimney
  • Saint Nicholas was to become the legendary white-bearded red-caped old man only after his image „emigrated“ to America. How? In the 17th century, it arrived under the form of statues at the bow of Dutch ships which laid anchor in the harbour of New Amsterdam, later to become New York City. Saint Nicholas was the spiritual patron of sailers and traders, and his presence aboard kept them safe from any ill-omen. He was called SinterKlaas, which became later
  • Santa Claus. Actually the Saint Nicholas’ legend started spreading all over America, as well as over the entire world in 19th century. In 1823, writer Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem about “St. Nicholas”, which entered the houses of many people. Santa was drawn in 1860 by cartoonist Thomas Nast for the Harper’s Weekly. But the image that was to make him famous as the Santa we have known up to this day was created in 1931 by artist Haddon Sundblom for a Coca-Cola Christmas advertising campaign.

GREETING CARD WITH SANTA CLAUS AND CHRISTMAS TREE A GREETING CARD FROM CIRCA 1950S. © BLUE LANTERN STUDIO/CORBIS

Santa in numbers

Here are some figuresabout Santa’s historical and funny figure

8 reindeer
pull Santa’s sledge

413.8 meters
the longest letter ever sent to Santa 2,110 Romanian children wrote this letter which entered the Book of Records

472 years
apparently, this is how old Santa is. It’s just a supposition.

66o 33’
is the latitude where Santa lives

1931
is the year when Santa Claus image reached a defining moment

30 million
copies of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas single were sold over the years, which made it the best sold Christmas song in the world.

4,05 million
Santa Claus references can be found on Google.

158,000
are about Mos Craciun.

100$
is the average fee for renting a professional Santa Claus impersonator.

3,939
people disguised as Santa gave presents last year in Bucharest, Romania’s capital thus entering the Book of Records

The Back-and-Forth

‘Santa Claus is a state of mind. That is why Christmas is so special. He represents the nicest holiday’

‘Santa Claus exists for

sure. He knows everything, he can do anything and he is watching us everday’

‘I don’t think that consummer society has wrecked Santa’s magic. It has partly worn him out, but partly enriched him’

‘I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a store and he asked me for my autograph’

The Santa Debate

  • Almost all adults, but even some kids wonder whether Santa Claus exists or not. One hundred years ago, Virginia O’Hanlon, an eight-year old girl from New York, sent a letter to The New York Sun
    complaining that her friends were telling her that there is no Santa Claus. The little girl, whose father told her not to believe her friends, was actually asking for clarifications from the newspaper. Impressed, editor Francis P. Church, answered her with a famous editorial. “Dear Virginia, your friends are wrong. They do not believe except they see. Santa exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy”
  • It is said that now Santa Claus lives in Lapland, close to the North Pole. Thousands of elves help him with the mail and eight reindeer help him carry the presents, the most famous of them being Rudolph. It is not known exactly how old Santa is, some say he is 348, others say he is 472, but as he never made his age public, there are still debates on this subject. One thing is for sure – that Santa has an official mailing address: Santa Claus, The Arctic Circle, 96930, Rovaniemi – Finland (according to the Romanian Post Office). What more proof do you need?
  • Last year, for nine days, 2,110 children from the schools in Brasov wrote a 413,8 meter-long letter addressed to Santa Claus. Covering a surface of 99,31 square meters, it made an official entry in the Book of Records as the longest letter addressed to Santa Claus, and it stayed six months in Finland to be read. The Romanian children asked Santa to lobby the important people on the planet to save the forests, without which childhood may be endangered.

STATUE OF SAINT NICHOLAS ON DEMRE-TURKEY © DAVE BARTRUFF/CORBIS; BASILICA OF SAN NICOLA IN BARI © VANNI ARCHIVE/CORBIS; MERRY OLD SANTA CLAUS - WOODCUT BY THOMAS NAST © BETTMANN/CORBIS

THE COCA-COLA SANTA CLAUS CREATED BY ARTIST HADDON SUNBLOM HAD COURTNESY OF THE COCA-COLA COMPANY; COURTNESY OF NEWSPAPER CLICK

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