Who is Santa Claus?

Over the years I’ve heard various people share different ideas of the origin of Santa Claus. A lot of people say he’s a made up Christmas story, or a folk tale. I know a few people who argue that Santa is actually Satan, because if you rearrange the letters in ‘santa‘ you can spell ‘satan.’ Also, Santa wears red, a colour commonly associated with Satan, therefore it must be true. (It’s not.)

So who is he anyway? Let’s look.

Santa Claus is in fact based on a real person, Saint Nicholas. He was a bishop in the 4th century, hailing from modern day Turkey. He was born into wealthy family, and was known for his generosity and humbleness. The most common story you will hear of him is when he gave money to a man for his daughters dowries, saving them from lives of prostitution.

Saint Nicholas in Dutchland is known as Sinterklaas. As the story of St. Nic traveled around Europe other legends gradually became associated with him. When the Dutch migrated to the US and settled in New Amsterdam (modern New York) they brought the legend of Sinterklaas with them. Over time Sinterklaas became Santa Claus. All of the things that led to our modern Santa Claus is an interesting read, especially if you like American history, if you have the time.

Historically, various Protestant groups have opposed the idea of Santa Claus because of his connection to the Catholic church, and other pagan traditions. With the rise in groups advocating for Christmas to remove all things not associated with Christ, Santa Claus has become a target in recent years. Whether or not you think their arguments have marit is up to you to decide. I would only point out that St. Nic isn’t a made-up folk tale (or Satanic), and is another mainstream holiday tradition that has its roots in Christianity that many people don’t think of.


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