By: V. Goerck
"He sees you when you're sleeping, and he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good, for goodness' sake". So, yes, the famed Santa Claus is coming to town with his famous red coat and trousers, fur collars and cuffs, red hat, and big, white beard. However, he has not always been like this; he has undergone quite a few changes throughout the centuries. This was caused by a series of factors.
Santa was initially Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children. Nicholas was a bishop around 280 A.D. and was known for his kindness, and he eventually became the subject of many legends. For example, he once saved three sisters from being sold into slavery by giving them a dowry so they could be married. Why people focused on his kindness instead of the threat of slavery was entirely beside the point. Regardless, people started celebrating the day of his passing, December 6th, and this eventually reached America with Dutch immigrants at the end of the 18th century.
The name, Santa Claus, developed from the nickname Sinter Klaas, a shortened Dutch version of Saint Nicholas. Santa was viewed in many ways during the early years, such as in blue-three-cornered or broad-brimmed hats. However, people liked to modify his head attire, so don't ask me why.
The renowned red outfit was said by many to be originated from genius marketing from everyone's favourite soft drink brand, Coca-Cola. However, Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, is a feat of advertising that can be claimed. St. Nicholas lived during the 4th century when red and white robes were commonly worn, which might explain the colour scheme.
However, the image of today's Santa can be accredited to Coke's marketing team, specifically Haddon Sundblom. He took inspiration from the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' by Clement Clark Moore, where Santa is described as jolly, plump, with rosy cheeks, twinkling eyes, and dimples, although Sundblom stopped drawing for Coca-Cola in 1964, the famous image remains to this day.
Another component of the iconic character is his neighbourhood, the North Pole. This has nothing to do with the original story, as St. Nicholas lived in modern Turkey. Thomas Nast, quite the intelligent man, came up with this somewhat random residence between 1863 and 1886. This was chosen due to the curiosity surrounding Arctic expeditions at the time, which gave a very mystical aura. Also, reindeer come from the Arctic, so it fits in quite nicely.
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