St. Nicholas, the Original Santa Claus

Today is the Feast of St. Nicholas. Last year, I shared how our family celebrates this wonderful feast day.

“Good St. Nick” was the original Santa Claus. He wasn’t an orphan named “Kris Kringle.” (Kris Kringle is actually derived from “Christkindl” or the Christ Child in German). The following is an interesting and informative article by Carol Myers entitled “St. Nicholas and the Origins of Santa Claus.”

Other artists and writers continued the change to an elf-like St. Nicholas, “Sancte Claus,” or “Santa Claus,” unlike the stately European bishop. In 1863, political cartoonist Thomas Nast began a series of annual drawings in Harper’s Weekly which were based on the descriptions found in the poem and Washington Irving’s work. These drawings established a rotund Santa with flowing beard, fur garments, and an omnipresent clay pipe. As Nast drew Santas until 1886, his work had considerable influence in forming the American Santa Claus. Along with changes in appearance, the saint’s name changed to Santa Claus as a natural phonetic alteration from the German Sankt Niklaus and Dutch Sinterklaas.”

There are also more informative articles at the St. Nicholas Center website:

There is a link for crafts and ways to celebrate St. Nicholas Day:

as well as a page for kids:

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

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