|Clad in red, full bodied, white bearded
and lavish bell ringer is this jolly old gentleman we all know
from countless street corners at Christmas for quite some time.
But who is this man? How did he come to America?
The nature of his thorough
involvement with American Christmas scene has turned this
mythical creation into a living Christmas icon. And at the same
time it has almost forced us to imagine him landing with a
group of Dutch and English settlers who are attributed to be
the initiators of this tradition in America. Santa Claus is the
sum total of several trends, customs and beliefs that only got
unified about a century and a half ago. His story is told
through an ex-animation of the three names given to him in
America: St. Nicholas, Kriss Kringle and Santa Clause.
Much of the present form of the Santa story is undoubtedly due
to the works of Clement Clark Moore and the cartoons of Thomas
Nast. In 1822, Dr. Moore from New York wrote a Christmas poem,
"A visit from St. Nicholas" to read out to his children on
X'mas Eve. The following year one Ms Harriet Butler read the
poem and requested a copy from him. Later she sent it
without Dr. Moore's consent for publishing to Troy, New
York Sentinel. Consequently it was published and became
popular. In 1938 Dr. Moore revealed that St. Nicholas was his
creation. And since then it has appeared countless
The 19th century American cartoonist Nast who had lived on the
same West 23rd Street as Dr. Moore, did a series of Christmas
drawings for Harper's Weekly. It was where the today's much
familiar fat and rosy cheeked Santa with large beard and
ringing bell made his debut after being modified from fat,
little elf-like creature depicted in Dr. Moore's poem.
And perhaps what made Santa more realistic is the classic reply
of the editor of New York Sun in response to the 8-year old
Virginia O' Hanlon's query whether there really was a Santa
Claus. The ed replied "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus',
and made Santa living for ever to the kids.