Everybody who likes to be given presents knows Santa Claus. Everyone easily recognizes that bearded man dressed in red clothes with white collar, sleeves and belt. Every child knows of his generosity, and all the children use to impatiently await his arrival on Christmas Day, when their stockings hung at the fireplace, become full of Santa’s gifts.
Well known in the North America – Santa Claus – is derived from a mispronounced Dutch name ‘Sinterklaas’, which translates: ‘Saint Nicholas’. His other names are: Father Frost, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or simply ‘Santa’, to mention just few of them used around the world. The popular look of Santa Claus was first created by the cartoonist Thomas Nast (at the end of 19th century in America), who had drawn a series of Santa Claus images. Nast’s drawings evolved into the nowadays form, and were standardized by the advertising industry, at the beginning of the 20th century.
Santa Claus is in fact not only a legendary person, but also a historical character, inspired by the life of Saint Nicholas of Myra, who lived in a 4th century in Byzantium province Anatolia (Turkey). He was a Christian bishop famous for his generosity. He gave gifts to the poor, and in particular, he is known for presenting three very religious daughters of a poor man with their dowries. This great gift prevented these girls from being sold, and from becoming slaves of the more fortunate. Bishop Nicholas was a very religious man from his early childhood, he devoted his entire life to Christianity, and thus became a Christian Saint. Mostly in the Western Europe, he is still portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes.
Most of the time, we associate Santa Claus with bringing gifts on Christmas Day. But there is also another tradition connected with Santa – in some European countries there is a special holiday called Saint Nicholas Day, that is celebrated on 6th of December, and about two weeks later in Eastern Orthodox Churches (as they use Julian Calendar). So children living in these regions have the luck to have two visits of Santa Claus a year.
Despite the fact that Santa Claus is differently portrayed in different countries, despite his names differ in various religions and cultures, he is very strongly written into the history of mankind. Let us never forget about Santa Claus, not only for all the presents received, but also for the whole idea of helping the people in need.
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