Who is Santa Claus? The origin and legend of Santa, and now more about everything:
Santa Claus - the legendary hero of Christmas, a kind old man who brings gifts to children for Christmas and New Year. As a rule, he is portrayed as a cheerful chubby grandfather with a white beard, dressed in a red kaftan edged with white. He flies through the air in a sleigh full of toys and eight reindeer. They say that on Christmas Eve Santa (as well as Saint Nicholas or Saint Nick) penetrates into houses through a chimney and puts gifts under the Christmas tree and in the stockings of all children who behaved well throughout the year. Although the familiar image of Santa Claus is a North American invention of the 19th century, it still has ancient European roots, and this has a great influence on the celebration of Christmas around the world.
The origin of the legend
In history, Saint Nicholas first appears in Christian legends, in which he is worshiped for saving the seaweed thrown out during a storm, protecting children and giving generous gifts to the poor. Despite the fact that the authenticity of many stories about St. Nicholas is questionable (they say, for example, how he once brought a bag of gold to a poor family by throwing it through a window), the legend about him spread throughout Europe, giving him the image of a hero who presented gifts to children. The Christian Saint Nicholas was changed or transformed into various pagan images, such as the Italian Befana, or the German Berchta.
The saint was called Sankt Nikolaus in Germany and Sanct Herr Nicholaas or Sinter Klaas in Holland. In these countries, Saint Nicholas was sometimes depicted galloping across the sky on a horse. He introduced himself in the mantle of a bishop and at times was accompanied by Black Peter - an elf who had to spank disobedient children. The celebration of St. Nicholas Day - the day when people exchanged gifts among themselves - usually took place on December 6th. After the Reformation, German Protestants recognized the veneration of the son of Christ and created for him his own day of celebration - December 25. When the tradition became widespread, it began to be closely associated with Christmas.
American Santa Claus got his inspirational idea and name from the Danish legend of Sinter Klaas, which the founders of New York brought with them in the 17th century. First, the name of Santa Claus appeared in the American press in the form of St. A Claus, and renowned writer Washington Irving was the first to tell a detailed story about the Danish Saint Nicholas. In his book History of New York, published in 1809 under the pseudonym Didrich Knickerbocker, Irving described the appearance of the Saint on the crown, accompanied by Black Peter every year on the eve of St. Nicholas Day.
This Danish-American image of Saint Nick became fully national to the American people in 1823 with the release of Clement Clark Mur's poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas, better known as The Night Before Christmas. Moore added details such as the name of the deer, laughter, nods and winks of Santa, and also described the way with which Santa, like an elf, came back from the pipe (Moore took the interpretation not from his head, but referring to the works of Irving in 1809).
And some funny pictures of Santa: