The History of How St. Nicholas Became Santa Claus (2023)

  • Culture

Santa Claus, Father Christmas, St. Nick—no matter the name, everyone knows the story of this plump, jolly, bringer of gifts. Or do they?

ByBrian Handwerk

Published December 25, 2018

15 min read

Any kid can tell you where Santa Claus is from—the North Pole. But his historical journey is even longer and more fantastic than his annual, one-night circumnavigation of the globe.

(Video) The History of Santa Claus: St. Nicholas and the Origin of Santa - FreeSchool

The progenitor of the modern American Santa was born in the Mediterranean during the Roman Empire, his legend evolved across northern Europe, and he finally assumed his now-familiar form on the shores of the New World. Who is this ancestor of Santa, and how did he change over time? (See "Christmas in July—Inside a Santa Summer Camp.")

<h3><strong>In cultures and countries across the globe, Saint Nick is central to the celebration—and commercialization—of Christmas.</strong></h3><p dir="ltr"><strong>In this photo from a January 1957 National Geographic article, Alaskan <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/12/pictures/141220-reindeer-animals-christmas-science-cultures-herders/">reindeer</a> pull Santa Claus's sleigh during the <a href="http://thenationaltree.org/event-history/">Pageant of Peace</a> in Washington, D.C. The annual event, which includes the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, began in 1923 under President Calvin Coolidge.</strong></p><p>The Santa we know today bears little resemblance to <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/12/131219-santa-claus-origin-history-christmas-facts-st-nicholas/">the original Saint Nicholas</a>. Yet the character has proved an enduring icon of Christmas. For many people around the world, the jolly, red-suited, white-bearded figure is a central part of the holiday's celebration—and commercialization.</p><p>As you wait for Santa to come down your chimney tonight, browse through these images of Old Saint Nick from the National Geographic photo archive.</p><p><em>—By Anna Lukacs, photo gallery by Kathy Moran</em></p>

A Right Jolly Old Elf

In cultures and countries across the globe, Saint Nick is central to the celebration—and commercialization—of Christmas.

In this photo from a January 1957 National Geographic article, Alaskan reindeer pull Santa Claus's sleigh during the Pageant of Peace in Washington, D.C. The annual event, which includes the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, began in 1923 under President Calvin Coolidge.

The Santa we know today bears little resemblance to the original Saint Nicholas. Yet the character has proved an enduring icon of Christmas. For many people around the world, the jolly, red-suited, white-bearded figure is a central part of the holiday's celebration—and commercialization.

As you wait for Santa to come down your chimney tonight, browse through these images of Old Saint Nick from the National Geographic photo archive.

(Video) Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa | The Saints and Heroes Collection

—By Anna Lukacs, photo gallery by Kathy Moran

Photograph by Volkmar K. Wentzel, Nat Geo Image Collection

Jolly Old St. Nicholas?

Every December 6, the faithful celebrate St. Nicholas Day in cities all over the world, with the largest ones taking place in Europe. Images of St. Nicholas vary considerably, but none of them look much like the red-cheeked, white-bearded old man seen everywhere today. One of the most compelling views of the real St. Nick, who lived in the third and fourth centuries, was created not by ancient artists but by using modern forensic facial reconstruction.

Scholarly debate over where the remains of the Greek bishop rest continues to this day, but traditionally, it was believed that the bones of St. Nicholas were stolen by Italian sailors during the 11th century and taken to the crypt of the Basilica di San Nicola on the southeast coast of Italy. When the crypt was repaired in the 1950s, the saint's skull and bones were documented with x-ray photos and thousands of detailed measurements. (For theories on other possible resting places of St. Nicholas, read: "Could the Remains of Santa Claus Be in This Turkish Church?")

Caroline Wilkinson, a facial anthropologist at the University of Manchester (England), used these data and modern software simulations to create a modern reconstruction of the long-dead man. Wilkinson put a human face on Santa's original namesake—one with a badly broken nose, possibly suffered during the persecution of Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

Much of her work is necessarily subject to interpretation. The size and shape of the facial muscles that once covered Nicholas's skull had to be inferred, and the shape of that skull itself was recreated from two-dimensional data. Digital artists added details that were based on best guesses, including the olive-toned skin most common among Greek Mediterraneans like Nicholas, brown eyes, and the gray hair of a 60-year-old man.

"We are bound to have lost some of the level of detail you would get by working from photographs, but we believe this is the closest we are ever going to get to him," Wilkinson said in the BBC Two feature film of the project entitled The Real Face of Santa.

From bishop to gift giver

How did this St. Nicholas turn into the North Pole-dwelling bringer of Christmas gifts? The original saint was a Greek born in the late third century, around 280 A.D. He became bishop of Myra, a small Roman town in modern Turkey. Nicholas was neither fat nor jolly but developed a reputation as a fiery, wiry, and defiant defender of church doctrine during the Great Persecution in 303, when Bibles were burned and priests made to renounce Christianity or face execution.

Nicholas defied these edicts and spent years in prison before the Roman emperor Constantine ended Christian persecution in 313 with the Edict of Milan. Nicholas's fame lived long after his death (on December 6 in the mid-fourth century, around 343) because he was associated with many miracles, and reverence for him continues to this day independent of his Christmas connection. He is the protector of many types of people, from orphans to sailors to prisoners.

Nicholas rose to prominence among the saints because he was the patron of so many groups. By about 1200, explained University of Manitoba historian Gerry Bowler, author of Santa Claus: A Biography, he became known as a patron of children and magical gift bringer because of two great stories from his life.

In the better-known tale, three young girls are saved from a life of prostitution when young Bishop Nicholas secretly delivers three bags of gold to their indebted father, which can be used for their dowries.

"The other story is not so well known now but was enormously well known in the Middle Ages," Bowler said. Nicholas entered an inn whose keeper had just murdered three boys and pickled their dismembered bodies in basement barrels. The bishop not only sensed the crime, but resurrected the victims as well. "That's one of the things that made him the patron saint of children."

(Video) Black St Nicholas Was a "Moor" of Ethiopian Ancestry

For several hundred years, circa 1200 to 1500, St. Nicholas was the unchallenged bringer of gifts and the toast of celebrations centered around his feast day, December 6. The strict saint took on some aspects of earlier European deities, like the Roman Saturn or the Norse Odin, who appeared as white-bearded men and had magical powers like flight. He also ensured that kids toed the line by saying their prayers and practicing good behavior.

But after the Protestant Reformation began in the 1500s, saints like Nicholas fell out of favor across much of northern Europe. "That was problematic," Bowler said. "You still love your kids, but now who is going to bring them the gifts?"

Bowler said that, in many cases, that job fell to baby Jesus, and the date was moved to Christmas rather than December 6. "But the infant's carrying capacity is very limited, and he's not very scary either," Bowler said. "So the Christ child was often given a scary helper to do the lugging of presents and the threatening of kids that doesn't seem appropriate coming from the baby Jesus."

Some of these scary Germanic figures again were based on Nicholas, no longer as a saint but as a threatening sidekick like Ru-klaus (Rough Nicholas), Aschenklas (Ashy Nicholas), and Pelznickel (Furry Nicholas). These figures expected good behavior or forced children to suffer consequences like whippings or kidnappings. Dissimilar as they seem to the jolly man in red, these colorful characters would later figure in the development of Santa himself. (Related: "Who Is Krampus? Explaining the Horrific Christmas Devil.")

Coming to America

In the Netherlands, kids and families simply refused to give up St. Nicholas as a gift bringer. They brought Sinterklaas with them to New World colonies, where the legends of the shaggy and scary Germanic gift bringers also endured.

But in early America Christmas wasn't much like the modern holiday. The holiday was shunned in New England, and elsewhere it had become a bit like the pagan Saturnalia that once occupied its place on the calendar. "'It was celebrated as a kind of outdoor, alcohol-fueled, rowdy community blowout," Bowler said. "That's what it had become in England as well. And there was no particular, magical gift bringer."

Then, during the early decades of the 19th century, all that changed thanks to a series of poets and writers who strove to make Christmas a family celebration—by reviving and remaking St. Nicholas.

Washington Irving's 1809 book Knickerbocker's History of New York first portrayed a pipe-smoking Nicholas soaring over the rooftops in a flying wagon, delivering presents to good girls and boys and switches to bad ones.

In 1821 an anonymous illustrated poem entitled "The Children's Friend" went much further in shaping the modern Santa and associating him with Christmas. "Here we finally have the appearance of a Santa Claus," Bowler said. "They've taken the magical gift-bringing of St. Nicholas, stripped him of any religious characteristics, and dressed this Santa in the furs of those shaggy Germanic gift bringers."

That figure brought gifts to good girls and boys, but he also sported a birch rod, the poem noted, that "directs a Parent's hand to use when virtue's path his sons refuse." Santa's thin wagon was pulled by a single reindeer—but both driver and team would get a major makeover the next year.

(Video) Santa Claus: The True Story

In 1822 Clement Clarke Moore wrote "A Visit From St. Nicholas," better known today as "The Night Before Christmas," for his six children, with no intention of adding to the fledgling Santa Claus phenomenon. It was published anonymously the next year, and to this day the plump, jolly Santa described therein rides a sleigh driven by eight familiar reindeer.

"It went viral," Bowler said. But familiar as the poem is, it still leaves much to the imagination, and the 19th century saw Santa appear in different-colored clothing, in sizes from miniature to massive, and in a variety of different guises. "I have a wonderful picture of him that looks exactly like George Washington riding a broomstick," Bowler said.

It wasn't until the late 19th century, he added, that the image of Santa became standardized as a full-size adult, dressed in red with white fur trim, venturing out from the North Pole in a reindeer-driven sleigh and keeping an eye on children's behavior.

The jolly, chubby, grandfatherly face of this Santa was largely created by Thomas Nast, the great political cartoonist in an era that featured many. "However, Nast did leave him half-sized," Bowler added, "and in what I think are rather indecent long johns."

Once firmly established, North America's Santa then underwent a kind of reverse migration to Europe, replacing the scary gift bringers and adopting local names like Père Noël (France) or Father Christmas (Great Britain). "What he's done is pretty much tame these Grimm's Fairy Tales-type characters from the late medieval days," Bowler said.

The Santa problem

Though he undoubtedly means well, Santa has certainly stirred up, and continues to create, more than his fair share of controversy.

In Russia, Santa Claus fell afoul of Josef Stalin. Before the Russian Revolution, Grandfather Frost (Ded Moroz) was a favored figure of Christmas who had adopted characteristics of proto-Santas like the Dutch Sinterklaas. "When the Soviet Union was formed, the communists abolished the celebration of Christmas and gift bringers," Bowler said.

"Then in the 1930s, when Stalin needed to build support, he allowed the reemergence of Grandfather Frost not as a Christmas gift bringer but as a New Year's gift bringer," Bowler added. Attempts to displace Christmas in Russia were ultimately unsuccessful, as were Soviet attempts to spread a secular version of Grandfather Frost, complete with blue coat to avoid Santa confusion, across Europe.

"Everywhere they went after World War II, the Soviets tried to replace the native gift bringers in places like Poland or Bulgaria," Bowler explained. "But local people just sort of held their noses until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989 and returned to their own traditions."

Santa remains a politicized figure around the world. American troops spread their version of the jolly man around the world in the years immediately following World War II, and he was generally welcomed, Bowler said, as a symbol of American generosity in rebuilding war-ravaged lands.

Nowadays, however, people in many nations have Santa on their own naughty list, either because he represents the secular side of Christmas at the expense of the religious. Sometimes Santa is rejected because he's not a local. "In places like the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Austria, and Latin America, they all have very strong anti-Santa movements because they are trying to preserve their native Christmas gift bringers and customs, and protect them from the North American Santa," he said.

Such efforts seem unlikely to stop a growing interest in Santa Claus, but their organizers may save him a few stops on his busy Christmas Eve schedule.

(Video) Who Was Saint Nicholas? | National Geographic

This story has been updated. It was originally published on December 20, 2013.

FAQs

How did St. Nicholas became Santa Claus? ›

Dutch families took the tradition of celebrating the feast day of Saint Nicholas with them to New Amsterdam in the American colonies, beginning as early as the 17th century. They referred to him as Sinterklaas. That name became Santa Claus to the early United States' English-speaking majority.

How would you explain St. Nicholas vs Santa Claus? ›

Although this classic image of Santa Claus originated from western Europe, his name is clearly a derivation of “Saint Nicholas” since “Claus” is a foreshortened Germanic version of the name “Nicholas.” The name Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, as he was known by the Germanic peoples became Anglicized to “Santa Claus.”

How did St. Nicholas became Santa Claus for kids? ›

In the early USA his name was 'Kris Kringle' (from the Christkindl). Later, Dutch settlers in the USA took the old stories of St. Nicholas or 'Sinterklaas', as he'd come to be known in parts of northern Europe, with them and Kris Kringle and St Nicholas / Sinterklaas became 'Santa Claus'!

Who is Santa Claus short answer? ›

Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts during the late evening and overnight hours on Christmas Eve to "nice" children, and either coal or nothing to "naughty" ...

Who invented Santa Claus and why? ›

Much earlier, the American cartoonist Thomas Nast fashioned Santa Claus's image on the pages of the American magazine Harper's Weekly. The character of Santa Claus is believed to descend from Bishop Nicholas of Myra, who lived in the 4th century.

Was Santa Claus inspired by St Nicholas? ›

St. Nicholas depicted ascending to heaven. His red bishop's miter and robe, along with his dedication to children, inspired the story of Santa Claus.

What is the real history of Santa Claus? ›

It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around A.D. 280 in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Much admired for his piety and kindness, St. Nicholas became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.

What does Santa Claus really represent? ›

The Image of Santa Claus, even with its religious origins in the third century, has today become mostly a symbol of wishes, gift giving and of fun.

What is the original meaning of Santa Claus? ›

The name, Santa Claus, was stated to evolve from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas, which is translated as the Dutch name for St. Nicholas. Gift giving, a custom that was passed down from St.

When and how did Santa Claus start? ›

Let's start at the beginning

By all accounts, his story begins in the fourth century AD in what is now modern-day Turkey. A man named Nicholas became the bishop of a village called Myra. He was later canonised, and soon became one of the most popular saints in Christianity.

What is the story told to the children about Saint Nicholas? ›

On the night of 5th December it is said that Saint Nicholas will fill good children's shoes with toys and gifts. Kids spend the evening polishing their boots in the hope that Saint Nicholas will fill them with treats! Leaving out an empty, muddy welly won't do the trick for Saint Nick, he leaves any muddy shoes empty.

What are 3 interesting facts about St. Nicholas? ›

He's also called Nicholas the Wonderworker. He was born in Turkey, and he died in Turkey, but he was Greek. Among many other things, St Nicholas is the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants and brewers. The whole tradition of Christmas presents came from St Nicholas' habit of giving gifts to people in secret.

Is Santa his real name? ›

Santa's real name is Saint Nicholas, and in many countries, he's still called that, including in Germany, where Sankt Nikolaus still visits children. The name Saint Nicholas has morphed into Santa Claus and that has become the most widespread name for Santa.

Is Santa real or is it your parents? ›

Santa is real in the sense that he was an actual person. Otherwise known as Saint Nicholas, his story goes all the way back to the 3rd century. He was a monk who was born in 280 A.D. in modern-day Turkey. As an only child, he was given great affection by his parents.

Who is Santa Claus to Jesus? ›

Santa Claus is a legend based mostly on the life of Saint Nicholas, a real-life, historical follower of Jesus Christ –a man who gave generously to those in need and fulfilled the Biblical command to love your neighbor.

Why was the story of Santa Claus created? ›

The character of Santa Claus originated from a 3rd-century monk called Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas lived in modern-day Turkey and became well-known for his kindness and generosity – it is believed that he gave away all his inheritance to the poor and needy, and devoted his time to serving those less fortunate.

What Colour was Santa before Coca Cola? ›

Before Coca‑Cola was invented, Santa Claus (St Nick) had appeared in numerous illustrations and books wearing a scarlet coat.

Why is Santa's suit red? ›

These include Saint Nicholas, a 4th Century Greek bishop - who famously wore red robes while giving gifts to the poor, especially children - and the English folk figure "Father Christmas", whose original green robes turned red over time.

Who started Santa Claus? ›

The current depiction of Santa Claus is based on images drawn by cartoonist Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly beginning in 1863. Nast's Santa owed much to the description given in the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (also known as “'Twas the Night Before Christmas”), first published in 1823.

Is Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus the same person? ›

The Dutch call him Sinterklaas – which has come into American English as 'Santa Claus' – short for Sint Nicolaas or St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas and Santa Claus are historically the same man.

What age do you tell your child Santa isn't real? ›

While everyone is different, according to a recent poll by House Method, the average age kids in the United States stop believing in Santa Claus is 8.5 years. So, chances are good that somewhere around then is the right age for your child to learn the true story about Santa Claus.

How old was Santa when born? ›

According to History.com, the monk who over time would evolve into Santa Claus was born in what is now modern-day Turkey in 280 A.D., making him a whopping 1,741 years old!

Did Santa ever have kids? ›

Claus almost never have children in any of their many depictions, there is at least one Christmas Burlesque musical from 1892 that features Kitty Claus, the daughter of Santa.

Why does Santa wear blue? ›

German immigrants brought Santa Claus figurines to Ohio in the 1800s and once like the blue Santa were made locally. The director of the American Toy Marvel Museum says the blue color was traditional for the German version of St. Nicholas.

Why does Santa wear glasses? ›

Santa, you see, has presbyopia. His age-related farsightedness is a common reason for many Santas to wear glasses, whether or not they're onstage. “Because most of the Santas are getting up there in age, the kids would always give us all these little things to read and we couldn't read 'em.

Where was Santa born? ›

Saint Nicholas, who is known worldwide as Santa Claus, was born in the ancient Lycian city of Patara, an important city on the Mediterranean coast of Türkiye. Around 300 AD, during a prosperous era for Patara, a rich wheat merchant had a son and named him Nicholas.

Why is Santa Claus always a man? ›

Santa Claus is a man because he is based on Saint Nicholas, who was a real existed bishop lived in III-IV century. Depending on the country, there are female figures similar to Santa Claus. For example, in Italy there exists the Befana character who is depicted as an old woman.

Is Santa Claus in the Bible? ›

Santa is NOT in the Bible, cannot be in the Bible. People need to know the history of the Christian Church and recognize Santa Claus as St. Nicholas - a Christian bishop. Santa is not mentioned in the Bible.

How old was Santa when he died? ›

How old will Santa be when he dies? Well, if you really must know: In years, Santa Claus is 1,752 years old! (That doesn't seem that old for an elf!)

Where did Santa start his journey? ›

Jolly Old Saint Nick usually starts his trip at the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean and then flies west, stopping in the South Pacific, then New Zealand and Australia. He then soars up to Japan, Asia, across Africa, Western Europe, and Canada before making it to the United States.

What is the truth about Saint Nicholas? ›

Nicholas was a real man. He was a bishop, living in the 3rd century, in what's now modern-day Turkey. Professor Adam English of Campbell University in North Carolina pieced together the life of St. Nicholas in his new book, The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra.

What does Saint Nicholas have to do with Jesus? ›

St. Nicholas showed us how to find Jesus in the poor, the oppressed and abused. He was devoted to charity, but charity always linked to justice. Nicholas teaches us that faithful followers of Jesus defend those who are wrongly accused.

What was the miracle that St. Nicholas did? ›

Other early stories tell of him calming a storm at sea, saving three innocent soldiers from wrongful execution, and chopping down a tree possessed by a demon. In his youth, he is said to have made a pilgrimage to Egypt and Palestine. Shortly after his return, he became Bishop of Myra.

Why is St. Nicholas called Christmas? ›

St. Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop who lived in the ancient Roman town of Myra, now Demre in Turkey, was reputed to be neither plump nor jolly, but did earn a longstanding reputation for charity and gift-giving. This, naturally, was the linchpin that would eventually link him to Christmas.

How do you explain St Nick day? ›

Born in 280 A.D. in Asia Minor, he lost his parents at an early age, though they left him great wealth when they died. He was known for giving anonymous gifts to help those in need and was eventually made a bishop. The good bishop died on December 6th; thus this day is now St. Nicholas Day.

What good things did Saint Nicholas do? ›

Nicholas is the patron of sailors and voyagers. Other stories tell of Nicholas saving his people from famine, sparing the lives of those innocently accused, and much more. He did many kind and generous deeds in secret, expecting nothing in return. Within a century of his death he was celebrated as a saint.

What's Santa Claus's wife's name? ›

The Santa Claus that we know lives in the North Pole. According to some North American sources, his original name was Kris Kringle before he changed his name to Santa Claus. Kris Kringle was a toymaker who married Jessica. Other names found for Mrs Claus are Mary Christmas, Gertrude, and Carol.

What's Santa's name in Mexico? ›

Spanish: Papa Noel (lit.

While in countries like Mexico and Venezuela, presents might also be brought by El Niñito Dios (baby Jesus) or Santo Clós (Santa Claus).

Does Santa have a twin? ›

The common Christmas expression is thought to be derived from a Western European folklore known as Krampus. The mythological figure — who is half goat, half demon — is the evil twin of Saint Nicholas and was supposedly invented in the middle ages to discipline kids according to National Geographic.

What age do children stop believing in Santa? ›

In 2019, House Method surveyed more than 4,500 families across the United States, and found the overall average age for no longer believing in Santa Claus is 8.4 years old. (But it varies by state: Kids in Mississippi generally believe until they're 10, while kids in Oregon stop believing at 7.)

Has Santa ever been seen? ›

Over the years, children all over the world have reported sightings of the real Santa Claus—not department store Santas or bell-ringing Salvation Army charity collectors, but the real thing. Some even claim they saw Saint Nick's sleigh and reindeer.

Who said Santa is not real? ›

The bishop shocked schoolchildren by telling them that Santa Claus wasn't real. Antonio Staglianò was speaking on the Feast of Saint Nicholas – the initial inspiration for the giving Santa Claus – about the commercialization of Christmas deflating the true religious meaning.

What does Jesus have to do with Christmas? ›

For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion.

Who is Santa known as in China? ›

Santa is known as 'Sheng dan Lao ren' in Mandarin, which translates as 'Christmas Old Man', and he is seen as a non-religious figure who lives in a fairytale Arctic Christmas Village in China's North Pole.

Who is Santa known as in Egypt? ›

In Egypt, Santa is called Baba Noel, meaning Father Christmas. Around Cairo, stores and hotels put up Christmas trees and decorations, which are also sold in supermarkets.

When did St. Nicholas change to Santa Claus? ›

In December 1773, and again in 1774, a New York newspaper reported that groups of Dutch families had gathered to honor the anniversary of his death. The name Santa Claus evolved from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas).

When did the Santa lie start? ›

In his book The Battle for Christmas, the professor Stephen Nissenbaum traces the origins of the Santa lie to a particular decade: the 1820s.

Who legally changed their name to Santa Claus? ›

Patrick Allen, Claus spent nine years in a low-key legal battle to change his name to Santa A. Claus, a proposal rejected by the state and by a Lehigh County judge, but at last granted in 1995 thanks to the intercession of then-state Sen. Roy C. Afflerbach.

What does Santa Claus symbolize? ›

The Image of Santa Claus, even with its religious origins in the third century, has today become mostly a symbol of wishes, gift giving and of fun.

When did Santa Claus replace Father Christmas? ›

The popular American myth of Santa Claus arrived in England in the 1850s and Father Christmas started to take on Santa's attributes. By the 1880s the new customs had become established, with the nocturnal visitor sometimes being known as Santa Claus and sometimes as Father Christmas.

Why is Santa called St Nick? ›

The name, Santa Claus, was stated to evolve from Nick's Dutch nickname, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas, which is translated as the Dutch name for St. Nicholas. Gift giving, a custom that was passed down from St.

What age did kids stop believing in Santa? ›

Most Americans (67%) stopped expecting Santa to shimmy down their chimney by the time they entered seventh grade. Half (49%) of Americans say they stopped believing in Santa before the age of 10 – with a quarter (23%) reporting that they lost sight of him between the ages of seven (10%) and eight (13%).

When did kids stop believing in Santa? ›

In 2019, House Method surveyed more than 4,500 families across the United States, and found the overall average age for no longer believing in Santa Claus is 8.4 years old. (But it varies by state: Kids in Mississippi generally believe until they're 10, while kids in Oregon stop believing at 7.)

Does Santa exist yes or no? ›

According to historical records, Santa is real. Santa is real in the sense that he was an actual person. Otherwise known as Saint Nicholas, his story goes all the way back to the 3rd century. He was a monk who was born in 280 A.D. in modern-day Turkey.

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