SANTA CLAUS Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


Biography » religious figures icons » santa claus


Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or     
simply "Santa", is a historical, legendary and mythical figure in folklore who,   
in Western cultures, is described as bringing gifts on Christmas Eve or           
Christmas Day, or on his feast day, December 6. The legend may have its           
basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of Saint Nicholas. 
The modern depiction of Santa Claus as a fat, jolly man (or elf) wearing a red     
coat and trousers with white cuffs and collar, and black leather belt and boots,   
became popular in the United States in the 19th century due to the significant     
influence of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast. This image         
has been maintained and reinforced through song, radio, television, and films.     
In the United Kingdom and Europe, his depiction is often identical to the         
American Santa, but he is commonly called Father Christmas.                       
One legend associated with Santa says that he lives in the far north, in a land   
of perpetual snow. The American version of Santa Claus lives at the North Pole,   
while Father Christmas is said to reside in Finland. Other details include: he     
is married and lives with Mrs. Claus; that he makes a list of children             
throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior; that he       
delivers presents, including toys, candy, and other presents to all of the good   
boys and girls in the world, and sometimes coal or sticks to the naughty           
children, in one night; and that he accomplishes this feat with the aid of         
magical elves who make the toys, and nine flying reindeer who pull his sleigh.     
There has long been opposition to teaching children to believe in Santa Claus.     
Some Christians say the Santa tradition detracts from the religious origins and   
purpose of Christmas. Other critics feel that Santa Claus is an elaborate lie,     
and that it is unethical for parents to teach their children to believe in his     
existence. Still others oppose Santa Claus as a symbol of the                     
commercialization of the Christmas holiday, or as an intrusion upon their own     
national traditions.