24 December 2009

The Legend of Santa Claus

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Time and Kris Kringle is a legendary figure who brings gifts to the homes of children on Christmas Eve (December 24th) or on his Feast Day: Saint Nicholas Day (December 6th).

The early pictures had Santa Claus in bishop's robes while today's Santa is plump, jolly, white bearded and wearing a red coat with a white collar and cuffs white cuffed red pants and a black belt and boots. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century (based on the images of cartoonist Thomas Nast).

Santa is associated with living in the far north. The American version says he lives at a house in the North pole while Father Christmas is said to reside in the mountains of Korvatunturi (Lapland). Santa lives with his wife and magical elves and flying reindeer. One legend says that Santa makes lists of children who have been :naughty" or "nice". Presents and gifts are given to the good children and lumps of coal are given to the naughty children.

Some Christian religions say that teaching children about Santa Claus detracts from the religious origins and purpose of Christmas. Some feel that it's a lie and it's unethical for parents to teach children to believe in his existence. Still others say that Santa is a symbol of commercialization.