Santa is that big guy with the white beard and red suit who lives at the North Pole. Santa has been around since nearly the beginning of time, making him one of the world's most famous characters. His story has evolved over centuries to become what it is today: a legend. Learn some fun facts about Santa to get you into the Santa Magic Spirit! From his history to interesting little tidbits, this blog has got you covered with everything you need to know about Santa.
History of Santa
The “Father of Christmas” goes by many names and is celebrated in many ways around the world, but what do we really know about this mysterious magic man? He does his virtuous deeds by the cover of night, and few have ever actually seen him. He gives to the good and not to the naughty. He wears a cape sometimes. He even has a workshop that supplies the world’s children with toys every year, not unlike Bruce Wayne’s Wayne Enterprises. Let’s face it, the guy is more like a superhero than anything else. Well, since he is an old friend, let’s shed some light into the real identity of Mr. Claus, if that IS in fact his real name.
Santa Claus is a combination of several different historical figures and cultural archetypes. Before Santa became popular in the United States he was originally modeled after St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants and pawnbrokers. He’s also known for his legendary gift-giving on December 6th each year by putting coins in the shoes left out by children but nowadays, any form charity is keeping with the spirit of Christmas!
Santa Claus made his first appearance in an American publication in 1809, when Washington Irving described him in "The History of New-York" from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty.
In 1821, a poem called "A Visit From St. Nicholas" was published anonymously, and it cemented many of Santa's modern attributes – including his outfit, his eight reindeer and his residence at the North Pole. In 1863, during the American Civil War, a writer in "Harper's Weekly" introduced Santa Claus as a symbol of Northern support. By the end of the century he was viewed by most children as being real instead of fictional.
The design for Coca-Cola's modern Santa Claus logo featuring his recognizable white beard and red outfit were influenced by political cartoonist H.H. Walker in 1931. He used Santa's image to advertise Coca-Cola during the Christmas season, and their association has remained strong over the years.
Today, Santa Claus is viewed as a bringer of gifts on Christmas Eve by children all over the world. The American tradition of leaving cookies and milk for him outside of homes or in stockings hanging by the fireplace can be traced back to England.
If you're looking for some inspiration to get into the holiday spirit, check out these 14 facts about Santa. It's sure to put a smile on your face and help you enjoy the season!
14 Fun + Interesting Facts About Santa
- The chic style and aura that Santa exudes today is a unification of 3 personas: the historic Saint Nicholas, the English Father Christmas, and the Dutch Sinterklaas. Saint Nicholas was an early Bishop of the 4th century who had made a name for himself by giving gifts, often in secret. Santa has been wearing a red suit trimmed with white fur since Father Christmas first donned the look in the 16th century, during the reign of Henry VIII. Sinterklaas is like a much more hardcore version of Saint Nicholas. It was not that long ago that naughty children could be spanked and even thrown in a bag and kidnapped by Sinterklaas and his side kick Zwarte Piet (Black Pete). Yikes! You better watch out indeed!
- The name, “Santa Claus” (an Anglicized version of Sinterklaas) was first published in the U.S. press in 1773!
- The first mention of Santa’s reindeer is in an 1821 anonymously written poem titled "Old Santeclaus with Much Delight.” These reindeer were later named in “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (better known as “The Night Before Christmas”). Donner and Blitzen were originally named Dunder and Blixem, meaning “thunder and lightning” in Dutch. Rudolph, the ninth and youngest of Santa’s reindeer, would not come around until Robert Lewis May wrote “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in 1939.
- Santa is Canadian, at least according to the Canada Post who places his North Pole residence in Canada’s HoH OHO postal code. He has been an official citizen since 2008. Several other countries also claim him as a citizen.
- Santa has been discussing the wish lists of children at department stores since 1890 when the entrepreneur, James Edgar first proposed the idea.
- Why travel through the chimney? Santa is not alone in this practice. The Norse god, Odin, would enter through the chimney during the solstice and the Italian gift-giving witch, Befana, was perpetually soot covered from chimney diving. It is also said that St. Nicholas would toss coins down the chimneys if his beneficiaries’ windows were closed.
- Leedham Bantok was the first actor to play Santa on the big screen in 1921.
- Mrs. Claus began receiving the recognition she deserves when Phyllis Mcginley’s story, “How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas,” was published in 1963. The 1956 song “Mrs. Santa Claus” by George Melachrino also helped establish her in the Christmas tradition.
- White Rock Beverages used the image of a red and white clothed Santa to sell mineral water in 1915 and Ginger Ale in 1923, well before Coca-Cola used his likeness in the 30s.
- As the most popular non-biblical saint, St. Nicholas has over 2,000 churches dedicated to him throughout France and Germany. England alone has more than 500.
- It is safe to say that the 11th century looters who stole half of St. Nicholas’s skeleton did not receive any presents that year.
- Beer, instead of milk, is offered to Santa in Austria and Britain.
- With over 2 billion children in the world and an average of 2.5 children per household, Santa needs to make about 840 million stops on Christmas eve. The reason no one ever sees him is because, to reach every child’s home, he only has a millisecond to drop down the chimney, eat cookies and milk, and distribute presents.
- A man named Santa Claus was elected to city council in North Pole Alaska. After growing his beard long and white, people began calling him Santa and he wondered how to best use the image for good. The 68-year-old man legally changed his name and won 58 votes on a platform that advocated for the community’s children.
Santa Magic 2021 Sneak Peek
Year after year, Cherry Hill Programs creates, collaborates, and celebrates Santa Magic by capturing the moment of every holiday experience. What’s in store for Santa Magic 2021?
Capture the Santa Magic
Save the Date! The first set of Santa Magic photo experience locations are opening November 12!! Santa can’t wait to capture all your sparkle + shine!
A Moment to Remember photo package includes:
- Digital Downloads
- (2) 6x8s
- (2) 4x6s
- Limited Edition 2021 Postcard Photo
- $25 special offer to shop Shutterfly’s products (participating locations only)
Holiday Extras with the purchase of any photo package at all locations:
$9.99 One Extra 6x8 Photo Print
$9.99 ($19.99 Value-50% Off!) My Photo Magic Pass
Full access to My Photo Santa Magic. Create a personalized, virtual photo experience that captures the holiday magic from anywhere, any time! Simply upload your personal images from any device and instantly appear in festive holiday backgrounds. Offers endless photo uploads and downloads to #ShareTheMagic with your family and friends!
$94.99 Holiday Traditions Box
Available while supplies last. Continue the Holiday Magic at home with a sleigh load full of family activities, holiday crafts, and projects to create memories that last a lifetime!
Holiday Magic Live
Holiday Magic Live brings holidays to life with curated and themed events that celebrate holiday magic at a location near you all season long.
Pet Night is available at participating locations across the US, Puerto Rico and Canada. Bring your favorite fur friend for pictures with Santa. Locations, Dates, + Times TBD
Sensory Friendly Santa Experience at participating locations across the US to celebrate the Santa Magic in a sensitive environment. Select locations only December 5 + 12. Reservations highly recommended.
Holiday PJ Magic
Celebrate National Family PJ Day November 14-19 by wearing your favorite holiday PJs to spruce up your Santa Magic photo experience. Who doesn’t love matching PJs to create the holiday magic with your family and friends?
Who doesn’t want to make Santa Magic an entire family affair? Celebrate your favorite holiday tradition with your grandparents November 22-26! Grab Grandpa or Grandma and create a photographic memory that will last forever with your most loveable Grandma and Grandpa!
Get festive or silly with your Santa Magic photos November 29-December 3! Use simple props to celebrate the season with your favorite holiday tradition! Fun glasses and hats are the perfect way to create an unforgettable experience to cherish year after year!
Dress Like Santa’s Elf
Dress like Santa’s Elf December 6-10. There’s no better way to commemorate your Santa Magic photo experience this holiday season! We just know Santa will love it!!
Ugly Sweater Magic
Celebrate one of your favorite holiday traditions in the ugliest holiday sweater! National Ugly Sweater Day is December 17, so create your Santa Magic by wearing favorite Ugly Holiday Sweater to capture your holiday experience in the perfect photo with Santa Dec 13-17!
Santa Magic is the ultimate experience for all your holiday needs. Make this holiday season special with Santa photos that are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face! Looking for something more? The Holiday extras and fun themed events will have something for everyone. Can’t wait to see all your Santa Magic photos this holiday season. Be sure to share them on Facebook or Instagram.
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