Ever since the 1800s, Santa Claus has been a part of Christmas. From stories to movies, he’s become one of the most iconic figures in American and worldwide culture. He now brings joy to children around the world every year, but what is his story? Where did he come from? In this blog post we’ll explore Santa’s origins and how his image was disseminated across America!
Where did the stories about Santa Claus come from?
– The first mention of Santa Claus comes from an early Dutch story, published in 1823. It’s possible that stories about a shaman dressed in red and white come from much earlier times – but this is the earliest known account.
In 1666, New Yorkers had their own ‘Saint Nicholas,’ who would give gifts to children on December 26th. The Dutch settlers in New York wanted to honor this tradition, and so they named their Santa Claus ‘Sinterklaas.’
– In 1809, Washington Irving published “Knickerbocker’s History of New York,” which is set in the early days of New Amsterdam (the colonial settlement that would eventually become Manhattan). Irving’s book mentions St. Nicholas, and the Dutch settlers were so happy that he gave a saintly name to their Santa Claus! They began to call him ‘Sinterklass.’
– In 1823, writer Clement Clarke Moore published “A Visit from Saint Nicholas,” better known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” This story is one of the first English-language depictions of Santa Claus, and is thought to be where his iconic red suit comes from.
– The image of a white man in a long robe carrying toys was popularized by illustrator Thomas Nast’s drawings for Harper’s Weekly magazine during the late 1800s. These illustrations helped convince many Americans that Santa was white, which is still the dominant image of Santa in America today.
– Many children across America hang their stockings near the fireplace on Christmas Eve with a note for Saint Nicholas. This tradition comes from Germany and is called “putting out shoes.” Children would put out one shoe filled with carrots to help feed the reindeer who were pulling Santa’s sleigh. In the United States, this tradition was changed to hanging stockings so kids could put their letters for Santa in them instead of carrots!
– One more Christmas story: Charles Dickens wrote “A Christmas Carol” which is about a man named Ebenezer Scrooge who has an epiphany on December 24th and decides to help people instead of being a miserly person.
Who disseminated the image of the red santa claus?
Thomas Nast, one of the illustrators for Harper’s Weekly magazine, is responsible for popularizing the image of Santa Claus in America in the late 1800s. Other illustrators helped to reinforce this image by drawing Santa as a white man. In images that predate Nast’s depictions, Santa was shown as a jolly old man with dark hair and a beard.
Why is Santa Claus associated with Coca Cola?
Santa’s always been associated with Coca Cola, and it dates back to the 1930s. In 1931, Haddon Sundblom was tasked with painting a Santa for bottles of Coca-Cola at the request of their advertising agency. He created an image we all know well: a rotund, cheerful Santa wearing an elf-like hat and carrying a cane. His images were also used in illustrations that ran in publications like Life magazine and ads on radio.
A few years ago, Coca-Cola updated their red and white colors to a simpler red design that removed the jingle bells from the cuffs of Santa’s robe – but they still retain his trademark wide belt adorned with Coke cans!
The fireplace is a traditional location to hang Christmas stockings. Stockings are hung near the fireplace because of pre-Christian Germanic custom. This tradition was practiced by believers in Norse religion, and was continued by Christians in Northern Europe. The custom of hanging up ornaments at Christmastime, notably candies or sweets, also comes from this custom.