The original Santa Claus was the Dutch Sinter Klaus, or "Klaus of the cinders," which was the Dutch name for the Good God Thor!
The god Thor was the god of the sun, of fire and of lightning (his name, of course, means "thunder"). His altar was in every home throughout the pre-patriarchal Scandinavian world, and in most people's homes for long after the Bronze-age invaders arrived . It was the fireplace, of course.
Every year on his birthday (Yuletide, December 25), Thor would visit every little child and bring presents, coming down the chimney to his own personal altar. (He was known as "Klaus of the cinders" or Sinter Klaus, because children assumed he would have to be singed just a bit in order to come through the flaming fire in mid-winter.)
Thor was always depicted as wearing furs in the colors of fire (red) and snow (white). He had a palace at the north pole (actually "in the far north") and he rode through the air in a sled pulled by two goats, named Gnasher and Crasher.
He would put presents in the sabots (wooden shoes) that children always put before the fireplace to keep them warm. Especially good little children would receive a shoe full of coals (to help keep them warm).
In England, Thor was often called Nick or Nickars, and was familiarly known as "Old Nick."
The Church, which originally honored the birthday of Jesus in the spring (when it most likely actually took place), moved the festival to December 25 because the masses were already honoring December 25. They then pretended that Sinter Klaus was actually some skinny little Mediterranean saint named Nicholas, whose birthday was actually December 8. The Church's Nicholas was mainly famous for giving money to young women so they could get married, because he hated having unmarried women around!
Today, the Church calls Santa Claus "Saint Nick." But Thor's other name, "Old Nick," is supposed to be the name of the devil!
The Good God Thor -- saint and devil at the same time. That's what superstitious theology can do to a holiday.