Lv 6
DeSaxe asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 9 years ago

Santa Claus, Chris Kringle, St. Nick?

What is the history of Santa Claus, Chris Kringle, St. Nick? Who is he?

8 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    St. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra. Most of the stories about him are legendary. In the Middle Ages, in many parts of Europe, it came to be customary to celebrate his feast day (December 6) by giving gifts to children. When we lived in Bavaria, the custom is still for children to put shoes outside their door on December 6 for St. Nicholas to fill with candy and gifts.

    In the Reformation, protestants (particularly Lutherans) were concerned that St. Nicholas was so popular among children that he was going to overshadow Jesus Christ, with Christmas being a rather dull church holiday following the fun of St. Nicholas' day by a few weeks. Luther tried to replace St. Nicholas with the Christkind (Christ-child), depicted as a white-robed figure with golden ringlets and a crown, coming to give them gifts on Christmas morning. The Christkind still features in Christmas celebrations in some parts of Germany.

    The Christkind idea never entirely took over, however, and St. Nicholas was hard to replace. What you see happening after that is a blending of traditions; St. Nicholas remains the gift-giver, but the day gets shifted from his feast day to Christmas. There's also some blurring of the figures. The word "Christkind" gets shifted in some languages to "Chris Kringle" and applied to Nicholas rather than the Christ child. "Klaus" or "Claus" is a shortened version of "Nicholas" (Nicolaus) in some languages, so "St. Nicholas" become "Sinter Klaas" or "Santa Claus."

    All this comes together in America, the melting pot of cultures where English, French, Dutch, Scandinavian and German Christmas traditions all blend together. The defining moment is the publication of the famous poem "The Night Before Christmas" which becomes the American Christmas myth. Here, Santa Claus, a magical gift-giving figure shorn of all religious significance, flies with reindeer, comes down chimneys and leaves presents for children. These elements all come from bits and pieces of prior European traditions.

    Even then, the modern figure of Santa wasn't quite fixed. The St. Nick of the "Night Before Christmas" is fat, but he's tiny, a "jolly old ELF" driving a "MINIATURE sleigh and eight TINY reindeer." He had no trouble flying up and down chimneys because he was small. It was Coca-Cola advertising around the turn of the century that re-imagined this figure as a large portly white-bearded gentleman in a great red fur suit, partly inspired by older English Father Christmas figures and the Ghost of Christmas Present from Dickens' "Christmas Carol." What everyone imagines somehow magically squeezing his great girth down chimneys is the Coca-Cola Santa Claus, which thanks to the power of advertising is now "the" Santa Claus.

  • Isabel
    Lv 4
    9 years ago

    The history of Santa Claus dates back a long time ago. A 4th century Christian priest named Saint Nicholas was often known for his generosity and kindness, often giving gifts to the poor and sick. Keep reading if you want to know more about Saint Nick.

    Saint Nicholas was born on December 6, 343, and was also known as Nikolaos of Myra. His reputation came from all the secret gift-giving he did, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him. His generosity gave him a high-ranking, I think he became a bishop or something. As well as giving gifts, he would sprinkle gold down people's chimneys and hide things in their stockings. Saint Nicholas looks nothing like the Santa we know today. Some people in certain countries teach their children about "Christ Child" in place of Saint Nicholas and/or Santa Claus. Saint Nicholas's feast day is December 6, his birthday, but it is moved to December 25, which is Christmas Day, what with all the Santa Claus stuff and the birthday of Jesus, it's more suitable to honour Nicholas on December 25 even though December 6 is his feast day. The modern Santa could be the real Santa, but commercialism has caused Christmas to stray away from Saint Nick and Jesus. Now, more about Saint Nicholas later. "Santa Claus" is the modern figure of Saint Nicholas. He is the man typically depicted as being fat, dressed in red with a flowing white beard, and being jolly and plump. There is a lot of debate about whether he is real or not. Santa Claus is based off Saint Nick, whose dutch name, as I mentioned earlier, is Sinterklaas. It's unknown how the modern portrayal of Santa Claus came about. However, Santa Claus would never have even been mentioned if it wasn't for Saint Nick. Their approaches to gift-giving are similar, but no-one knows if Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus are the same person. Saint Nicholas was born in the 3rd century and died in the 4th century, but when exactly Santa Claus came about is unknown. Don't rely on sources like Wikipedia to tell you much, because they're logically driven and are written by random people. Yahoo Answers users don't always exactly tell you the truth, but they can tell you much more than other Internet sites and sources can.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Diogenes is closest: St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) is the origin of Santa Claus as you celebrate it. I am Duch, we celebrate it on 5 December, the festival of Saint Nicholas.

    That one comes from Germanic customs. Wodan rode a white 8 legged horse (St Nich a normal one) over the rooftops, and dropped little gifts through the smoke holes. That festival couldn't be eradicated by the church, so they converted it into something they could approve of.

    The Dutch celebrate it everywhere they went (still do), the festival first caught on in England, and then crossed the Atlantic. In England the date changed from 5 Dec to Christmas.

    The Dutch Santa is a lot more clever than the US version: he lives in a palace in Madrid! (A heck of a lot more comfy than the North Pole.) He is a stately Roman Catholic Bishop, and acts like one. (No:ho, ho ho!) He doesn't have elves but -shudder- black servants (not slaves) called Black Pete's.

    Naughty children don't get charchoal, but get spanked by Black Pete, or put in his (now) empty bag of goodies to labor for a year in the marzipan groves in Spain.

  • 9 years ago

    Santa Claus and St. Nicholas are one and the same person. Saint Nicholas was Bishop of Myra in present day Turkey. He came from a rich family and distributed gifts, in secret, to poor families in his diocese. Saint's Day is 6th December, which is the date of his death in 343.

    Christkindl is a diminutive of Christkind in German (Christ child).

    Father Christmas was formerly Father Winter, a northern hemisphere figure who was celebrated on 22nd. December (the Winter Solstice) in a festival aimed at assuring people in the far north of Europe that the sun would return. The festival was hi-jacked by early Christians.

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  • no
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    The First answers ARE correct, but I must add.

    Christmas is another of the "borrowed" holidays. This time of year is Yule; the time that the Sun would shine upon the Earth would be longer and longer each day for the next six months. This is also the start of the New Year as the cycle started all over again. This is a symbolic rebirth of the SUN (not the SON of some Christian god).

    The Yule celebration included the use of Evergreen Trees for decoration since they were the only trees to "live" through the winter, and atop the tree they would place a symbol of The North Star which guided them on their Sea Journeys (not the "Christmas Star" which guided the "Wise men" to a god-baby). It is interesting also that the Old Testament commands you NOT to participate in the use of what Christians call a “Christmas Tree” in Jeremiah 10:2-4!

    The Eagle, one of the decorations for the Yule tree is one of the shapes symbolizing ODIN, not a "dove of Peace" or representation of a or "the" "Holy Spirit" is in many Xmas trees. The three "Wise men" visiting the "Baby Jesus" (Joshua Ben Joseph) and his Mother is really The Three Wanderers, ODIN, THOR and LOKI visiting FRIGGA, the Mother of the Gods and the newborn God of the New Year (or the three NORNS depending upon which source you have for the story. In the Bible there is no mention as to the number of "Wise men" that visited the Nazarene, the number THREE is only found in the Germanic stories of the Norse Gods. Even Santa Claus watching to see who "is naughty and who is nice", is a rip off of the German tribes believing that “ODIN”, or "WOTAN" in Germany, would fly over the land and see who is mistreating their families and livestock. There are also tails of ODIN visiting Midgard during the Yule season and sitting near the fire to listen to any complaints that Humans had in order to correct them. He often carried a bag of bread to feed the poor.

    Other stories are of the sleigh with Santa which is actually THOR with his chariot pulled by Goats, with THOR dressed in red which is his color. THOR was always a jolly (to humans anyway) protector of mankind from the evil giants etc, and he stayed someplace in the north where he went to fight the giants (hmmmmm..... reference to the modern Santa and the “North Pole”?).

    Santa” was also made up of several other folk stories from many civilizations, not just the stories of the Old Gods of the Northern Folk, but I will leave those stories for those people to write.

    Source(s): "My Notebook On Norse Heathenism"
  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    Saint Nicholas was also the patron saint of orphaned children, unmarried girls, and sailors.

    The Dutch were big followers of St. Nick and spread him all over the world, new and old.

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    You forgot Father Christmas

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    In Britain - Father Christmas.

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