Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Santa Origins

Santa Claus has quite a history. An ancient Teutonic festival has a person called, "the old man of the woods", dancing around a burning log; The old man was characterized as have a red-nose and a white beard.

When Roman missionaries began to Christianize the lands to their north, the Teutonic festival blended with the celebration of Christmas. The old man of the woods got a new name and became "Kriss Kringle.

Enter Nicholas, a 4th century bishop, noted for his kindness and gifts. He became Saint Nicholas and in time that blended with Kriss Kringle. Eventually Dutch settlers brought this legend to the new world, but dialects distorted the Dutch name Sint Nicholas to Sinterclaas that in turn became Santa Claus.

It was a Washington Irving story in 1809 that probably helped the legend develop even further. He had a jolly Saint Nicholas, smoking a pipe, flying through the air in a wagon dropping presents down the chimneys.

Several years later, in 1822, Clement C. Moore, wrote the poem "The Night Before Christmas".  The wagon became a sleigh and reindeer pulled it through the sky.

With a history like that, the guy has got to be real.

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