The history of Father Christmas

Olivia Hague-Delves | 08 December, 2016

            The history of Father Christmas

Santa Claus. Kris Kringle. Father Christmas. St. Nicholas.

The man behind St. Nicholas was a bishop who lived in the 4th Century in a place called Myra which as actually now known as Turkey. He was a very rich man due to his parents dying when he was very young and receiving his inheritance. He was much admired due to his kindness and piety.

There are many legends for St. Nicholas but we don’t know which one is true!

There was a poor man who had three daughters. He was so poor, he did not have enough money for a dowry, so his daughters couldn't get married. (A dowry is a sum of money paid to the bridegroom by the bride’s parents on the wedding day. This still happens in some countries, even today.) One night, Nicholas secretly dropped a bag of gold down the chimney and into the house (This meant that the oldest daughter was then able to be married.). The bag fell into a stocking that had been hung by the fire to dry! This was repeated later with the second daughter. Finally, determined to discover the person who had given him the money, the father secretly hid by the fire every evening until he caught Nicholas dropping in a bag of gold. Nicholas begged the man to not tell anyone what he had done, because he did not want to bring attention to himself. But soon the news got out and when anyone received a secret gift, it was thought that maybe it was from Nicholas.

Due to this Nicholas the Bishop became St. Nicholas.

In the 16th Century after the reformation, the stories and traditions about St. Nicholas became unpopular so in England he became ‘Father Christmas’.

But someone had to deliver presents to children at Christmas, so in the UK, particularly in England, he became 'Father Christmas' or 'Old Man Christmas', an old character from stories plays during the middle ages in the UK and parts of northern Europe. In France, he was then known as 'Père Nöel' in Germany, the 'Christ Kind'. In the early USA his name was 'Kris Kringle'. Later, Dutch settlers in the USA took the old stories of St. Nicholas with them and Kris Kringle became 'Sinterklaas' or as we now say 'Santa Claus'!

There is an urban legend that Santa’s suit was originally green and due to Coca Cola his suit was turned red! BUT as cool as that rumour is, we are sure it isn’t true.

Today around the world Santa is pretty much the same. Red suit. Great big, bushy, white beard. Big belly. And a man that delivers presents! Don’t forget his Reindeer!