By Bryan Garcia
The holidays are coming up and it only comes once a year. It’s a time where family and friends get together and reminisce on the year that is about to end. However, the majority of the people never get to think about where the iconic, old man came from. He has been in the hearts of children and adults alike, yet his origin remains unknown throughout a great multitude of people. Well, this holiday season is going to be different: it’s time to uncover the truth behind Santa Claus.
Before we go any further, let me just say this: Santa Claus isn’t real. Shocking, right? In reality, the image of Santa Claus originated from Saint Nicholas, a Christian monk who lived during the 3rd century. Saint Nicholas is commonly known for his dedication to society during his time. Because of this, Saint Nicholas was considered to be the most popular saint in Europe during the Renaissance era.
Just one act of his generosity was helping a poor man who had three daughters. The story went on that the poor man couldn’t afford a dowry for his daughters (a dowry is a transfer of parental property at the marriage of a daughter). Back in the day, a dowry was an important factor when it came to marriage. Without it, the marriage could not come to pass. This was unfortunate for the daughters because unmarried women were more likely to become prostitutes, considering that they did not have a husband to support them. With the sincere hope of changing this, Saint Nicholas got a portion of his inherited wealth, put the portion in three bags, and presented the portions to the poor man and his household.
One can say that Saint Nicholas was the Santa Claus, but this didn’t continue on forever as Saint Nicholas died on December 9, 343 AD in Myra, Rome.
Although Saint Nicholas died at the age of 73, his benevolent reputation kept on forming the fatherly figure that grew into Santa Claus. As the character of Santa Claus started to develop into a stand-alone individual rather than an idea, his popularity took significance in Western countries when Washington Irving published his book in 1809 titled A History of New York. In his book, Irving described a dream which featured Saint Nicholas flying a contraption which he used to soar above the horizons. Not only did Washington Irving describe what is to be Santa’s iconic sleigh, but he also depicted his past Christmas experiences of having light-hearted festivals throughout the streets of England. Washington Irving envisionment of Santa’s vehicle of choice has formed to become a major part of Christmas. How’s that for killing two birds with one stone?
As the idea of Santa Claus started to become more of a representation of Christmas, Santa Claus took what was to be his last major description when the Coca-Cola company started to advertise their product in his name, envisioning the man in red as an old, bulky man who wears a red coat and a thin pair of spectacles. Not only did the company describe what is seen to be the iconic Santa Claus that we know today, but they advertised him drinking a bottle of Coca-Cola while he rode in his sleigh. Even to this day, there are still commercials from Coca-Cola that depict Santa Claus in such a manner. And thus, Santa Claus boomed in the Western World.
From a Christian Monk who lived in the third century to a 20th century company who wanted to make a profit out of his image, there is no doubt that Santa Claus was a developing character throughout the years. Although Santa Claus is a figment of an imagination, he is by far the best motivation for the children who believe in him during this time of year. Hopefully, the future generations will keep on believing in him.