16 December, 2019
People across the world are in preparations to celebrate Christmas, the birthday of Lord Jesus Christ. While abroad, it’s mostly a holiday season up to New Year, in India, too, kids are excited, as they have Christmas holidays. Many schools close down with Christmas parties and Secret Santa games. Santa Claus happens to be an integral part of Christmas celebrations. Almost all of us would have hummed, Jingle Bells song, and picturized Santa Claus in our minds as we grew up. Would you know when and how the Santa came about? How about telling the story of Santa Claus to the kids this Christmas, along with all the revelry, family time, and partying?
The picture of Santa Claus in most kids’ minds is that of a white-bearded old man, in a red-colored dress, complete with a Christmas cap, fat, jolly, with a twinkle in his eyes, and a bag of goodies on his shoulder. He is supposed to be traveling around the world on his sleigh pulled by his flying reindeer fleet. The expectation is that he goes around and climbs down the chimneys of each house and puts the gifts in the stockings! He is the postman who is answering all the letters and wishes that kids have made before Christmas, asking for their Christmas presents.
It is believed that Santa Claus originated from St. Nicholas, a Greek-born saint of around 280 AD. He was recorded as a fiery saint, who defended Christianity and saints from persecution. He spent many years in prison till Emperor Constantine ended the persecution, and then his fame lived on for many years after his death around 343 AD. He was seen as a protector and patron of many people, and also many miracles were attributed to him.
On December 6, his feast day, people celebrated his life, as a bringer of gifts, and a lover of kids, who brought them gifts. However, some changes happened later, and the date was then shifted to Christmas, for bringing the gifts. His legend carried on, in the Americas, England, and the Netherlands from where is supposed to be emerging. And somehow, with the help of stories, poems (titled A Visit from St. Nicholas of 1823) and more, Santa Claus, emerged into a nice, jolly good person, who loves kids and brings them gifts, at every Christmas. The image depicted then has carried on, and the tradition continues across the world. It is good to have kids believe in the magic of a Santa Claus, who gets them gifts every Christmas, provided they are well behaved!
In fact, in the Netherlands, they refer to him as Sinterklaas, and predominantly, the gifts are still given on December 6, his feast day. He is also called Father Christmas by some, and his legend, thus continued to build across the world, and today, he is a big part of Christmas. His laughter, “Ho, Ho, Ho,” is another interesting thing that is being carried forward.
The modern Santa
In keeping with the legend and the belief, nowadays, someone portly dresses up in a Santa costume, at every Christmas party, and goes around making kids happy and giving them gifts. At home, the parents put the gifts in the stockings and make the kids believe that Santa came and stuffed it in at night!
Most of the public places and malls are decorated for Christmas, and you will also find someone dressed up as Santa Claus, to engage with the kids and entertain them, and may also be handing out goodies. Many like to click pictures with Santa Claus as a memoir. While many are unaware of the story behind Santa Claus, and his link to Saint, who was not in any way looking like the Santa Claus of today, the tradition lives on. Through generations of kids, we like to keep this magic alive, because it is good to hold on to some magical things and it brings cheers all around.
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