The History of Father Christmas (Santa Claus)

Children all over the world beam with joy whenever they hear of Father Christmas or Santa Claus as the case may be. Usually, there is a high expectation and so much delight because of the gifts and fun Father Christmas brings. I remember my mum used to take us to different Christmas parties while I was young. We visited Santa and were always happy to receive gifts from Santa. Growing up, I wondered if Santa was truly a person and why Santa Claus is a symbol of Christmas. In this article, we will be reflecting on the history of Santa Claus and how he is an enduring symbol of generosity, joy, and the spirit of giving.

The Enduring Legacy and Cultural Significance of Father Christmas

Father Christmas, known by various names across cultures, has a different history that merges stories, traditions, and religious influences from various regions. The modern-day concept of Santa Claus is an addition of many stories and cultural influences over the years.


The Early Origins of Father Christmas

The early origin of Father Christmas was from Saint Nicholas. He is one of the primary influences of the modern-day Santa Claus; a Christian bishop (some sources say monk) born in the 3rd century, around 280 AD in Patara, now modern-day Turkey. He was known for his generosity and love for children. History records that he had wealthy parents and his parents left him a large estate when they died.

He regularly gave to the poor from his inheritance; he lived a humble life sharing love and kindness. He is recorded to have died on December 6th and this day became a time for gift-giving and charity, especially in European countries. The name “Santa Claus” was derived from “Sinta Klass” which was St Nicholas's name in Dutch.

How has Santa Claus evolved?

• In Netherland, Saint Nicholas became known as "Sinterklaas”. His image is usually portrayed as a tall man who looks royal, dressed in a bishop’s attire. He arrives on a horse to give children gifts and goodies, making them happy.

• Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (now called New York) brought the "Sinterklaas” tradition to America. Over time, "Sinterklaas” has evolved into the figure we now call Santa Claus.

• The Salvation Army potryed the gift giving culture  in the 1890s. They sent out unemployed men to the street to ring bells and receive donations for the less privileged.

• Several literary works have influenced people’s perspective of Father Christmas. In the 19th century, many literary works helped shape the modern image of Santa Claus. Washington Irving's stories and Clement Clarke Moore's poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (commonly known as "The Night Before Christmas") contributed to the description of Santa as a jolly, round body shape figure who travels on a sleigh pulled by reindeer, enters homes through chimneys, and delivers gifts on Christmas Eve.


• The interpretation of Santa Claus continued to evolve through illustrations by Thomas Nast and Coca-Cola advertisements in the 20th century, solidifying the iconic red-suited, white-bearded figure we recognize today.


Father Christmas among Various Cultures

1. Various cultures have their versions of a figure that gives gifts and brings joy to different households. Some of these figures include Father Christmas in England, Père Noël in France, Christkind in Germany, and Ded Moroz in Russia.


2. These figures might have different origins, stories and appearances but they share similarities in their roles as gift-givers during the Christmas season.


Modern Perspective on Father Christmas

Father Christmas or Santa Claus has become a universal symbol of generosity, joy, and gift-giving during the Christmas season. His image varies across cultures, but the essence of spreading cheer and goodwill remains consistent. Many parents can bring smiles to the faces of their children by giving them gifts and spending time with them through the festivities.


Final Thoughts

Many people think the Father Christmas culture should be removed and abolished. They believe Christians shouldn’t join in the celebrations because there is no concrete evidence of Saint Nicholas or his gift-sharing habits.

Many times when I think about this, I feel we can rather relate Father Christmas to our lord. He is a father who comes bearing gifts and putting smiles on the faces of his children. He doesn’t share gifts based on colour, height, wealth, privileges or location; he gives gifts to all his children.

The question is; are you his child?


Sources: STPL (,-by%20STPL%20Reference&text=The%20story%20behind%20Santa%20goes,%2C%20in%20modern%2Dday%20Turkey.)


This piece was written by Adelekan Bolanle, a mother of three who is passionate about Christ. She is a Freelance Web developer and an Aso Ebi vendor. Her hobbies are reading, and cooking. She runs a Christian blog, Beautiful Roses Nigeria, where she shares her thoughts on Christian living.

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