Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Readers - The Classic Legend of Santa Claus - From the 3rd Century to Today


As readers know, I enjoy researching other cultures as well as sharing interesting customs with you that both involve kids and adults from a family perspective. I don't celebrate Christmas myself; nevertheless, I've covered a huge range of topics on today's holiday observance before.  Just a few weeks ago, an Arthur Christmas movie giveaway ran on MBE and then there was the post about how to easily create heirloom quality ornaments with personal photos. In past years I've also written about everything from the movie Curious George - A Very Monkey Christmas and the origins of the 12 Days of Christmas to a gift showcase of ideas for kids that enhance family living to Christmas iPhone and iPad apps for kids and moms to free and frugal DIY Christmas crafts the whole family will enjoy. This year, for something different, I decided to look into the legend of Santa Claus which is probably the number one thing that children the world over who celebrate this day associate with it.
Santa Sighting in the sky above Beverly Hills
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

The big fat jolly guy in the red and white flocked suit, it turns out, didn't start out looking the way he does today in the eyes of children who sit on his lap to tell him what they want for Christmas. As a matter of fact this holiday symbol wasn't even known as Santa originally.

The person that historians regard as the original source of this tradition is St. Nicholas who was born in the 3rd century in a town on the southern coast of Turkey and was known throughout his life for giving gifts to the poor, children, and mariners. He even was persecuted by the Roman Empire for his religious beliefs and did time in prison during his life. 

Then in 1822, many centuries after the original St. Nick had died on the other half of the globe, Clement Clarke Moore, a New York native, wrote the poem An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas for his three daughters. This came to be known as the popular classic story 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. With the continued rise of commercialism and advertising of the holiday in the mid 1800s, especially in the U.S., the popular image of Santa Claus as he is portrayed in modern times emerged. Today that old-fashioned depictions seems to have changed little over the past 75 years.
Santa, Sleigh & 8 Reindeer Seem Oblivious to L.A. Traffic
At the busiest intersection in Beverly Hills
iPhone Photo by Janis Brett Elspas,

If you celebrate Christmas what are some of the traditions you have that are rooted in your own childhood? What new customs have you created for your own children to enjoy?

Merry Christmas to those celebrating today

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