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We’ve all heard of him: the big jolly guy who comes around once a year and gifts all good girls and boys on Christmas Eve – Santa Claus. Though you may not know how the story of Santa Claus came to be. Here is a brief history lesson on good ol’ St. Nick.

    The legend of Santa traces back to the 3rd century, to a monk named St. Nicholas. Nicholas is believed to have been born in modern-day Turkey, around 280 A.D. Nicholas was a kind and pious man, and he firmly believed in helping the poor and sick. He became notorious for being a protector of children and sailors, and quickly became the most popular saint in Europe, until his death in 343 A.D.

    St. Nicholas was first introduced in America towards the end of the 18th century when multiple New York newspapers reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honour the anniversary of Nicholas’ death. St. Nicholas started being called Sinter Klass, the Dutch nickname translated from Saint Nicholas. Then, in 1804, John Pintard of the New York Historical Society, distributed wood engravings of Nicholas, featuring stockings filled with toys and fruit hung over a fireplace.

    In 1840, stores began advertising holiday collections which often displayed Santa Claus. In 1841, a Philadelphia shop created a life-sized Santa, which attracted thousands of children. Seeing this, many stores began attracting children with a chance to see a “live” Santa. Soon after, the Salvation Army began hiring unemployed men to dress up as Santa and provide meals for those in need, thus began Mall Santa’s. 

    Now, every Christmas, thousands of children go to see Santa and tell him what they want for Christmas. As for the future of Santa? That is still undetermined, though I could imagine a world with holographic Santa’s during Christmas. But for now, Santa is just fine the way he is. 

 

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