Ho! Ho! Ho! Who is Santa Claus? Where did he come from?
Apparently Santa Claus had his origins in a Turkish bishop named Nicholas who later became St. Nicholas. Legend has it that he gave gifts to people in need and this somehow evolved into gift giving on a specific winter day. Later, that day (or at least a specific day--December 25th) became Christmas Day for the Christians.
The Dutch established the custom of celebrating St. Nicholas on his feast day, December 6th, by exchanging gifts. They brought the custom to the new world and English settlers began to pick up on it. The English-speaking children couldn't pronounce Sinterklaas (the Dutch name for St. Nicholas) correctly. Instead it came out as Santa Claus. The English, being smart parents and not wanting to have to give gifts on two days, quickly associated Santa Claus with Christmas Day.
Interestingly, St. Nicholas/Santa Claus was originally pictured with a noble-like appearance, wearing Bishop's robes and riding a white horse--no sleigh, no reindeer. However, in 1809 the famous American author Washington Irving published a book which changed him from tall and thin and posed to short and stout and jolly. The change stuck and in 1823 was forever etched into tradition when Clement Moore wrote a poem that starts out: "Twas the night before Christmas…"
Our current image of Santa Claus dates to the 1863-1886 era when a cartoonist for Harpers Weekly magazine, Thomas Nast, drew up a series of images of the short and stout and jolly version of Santa with a white beard and a red suit. Over the years Nast added such embellishments as a workshop, and, of course, illustrated Clement Moore's sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
Because we are a Christmas tree farm, and Santa would have nowhere to put his presents if there were no Christmas trees, we have a very special relationship with Santa. That is why, busy as Santa is, that he comes to visit our farm each year during the Christmas season. We love to have him here those special days and we especially love it on Christmas eve when, from somewhere above us, we hear him exclaim:
"Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!"
We get lots of questions about Santa, but we don't have the answers. Questions such as:
How old is Santa? (Perhaps as old as the first children.)
How do Santa's reindeer fly? (Perhaps they flap their antlers.)
How fast do they fly? (Perhaps so fast that's really why Rudolph's nose gets bright red.)
How does he get down the chimney? (Perhaps he takes off his big thick worm coat (it's already warm inside a chimney) or perhaps most of the time he just uses the front door.)
How did he get so fat? (Perhaps he gets too much milk and cookies. Maybe you should leave him an apple.)
How can his sleigh carry all those toys? (Perhaps he goes back to the North Pole for reloads.)
How can he work all night and not get tired? (Perhaps he takes a nap while the elves are reloading the sleigh.)
How come I don't hear him and wake up? (Perhaps because you got to stay up too late on Christmas eve.)
How come we don't know for sure? (Perhaps the real answers are not that important. What you believe is what's important.)
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