Saint Nicholas & The (Brief) History of Santa

Posted on November 08, 2016

Did you know that Santa Claus as we know and love him today, is an adaptation of a real person…? Saint Nicholas was a 4th century Christian Saint, and Greek Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey.

saint nicholas
Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra

Saint Nick was known for his kindness and generosity towards children – one of many related stories being that he devoted his wealth to delivering secret gifts of gold and other treasures to needy children, often in their stockings, and always under the cover of darkness.

When Saint Nicholas died on the 6th of December 343 AD, the tradition of unselfish-giving carried on in his name, and this custom spread across Ancient Europe.

The Dutch version of Saint Nicholas went by the name Sinterklaas (short for Sint Nikolaas) and is believed to have merged slightly with the Odon, the Pagan God of Yule, who had a long white beard, and flew through the sky on an 8-legged horse.

Dutch Sinterklaas, on his white horse

Saint Nicholas was Europe’s most popular Saint for centuries, and the traditions came with them to the New-World, with the settling of New Amsterdam (Modern Day New York City).

From here, a couple few moments transform Saint Nicholas in to the Santa Claus that we know today… involving two influential New Yorkers, and a very well known soft drink company… but you can read more about that in our other article – The Men Who Shaped Santa Claus.




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