Fascinating Facts About Santa Claus From Around the World
We all know the ho, ho, ho of the jolly fat man in red. But around the world, did you know that Santa Claus is derived from a real Dutch bishop? Or that the red-and-white of his suit were popularised by Coca-Cola?
- The original Santa Claus is said to have sprung from the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas is thought to be based on the Bishop of Myra, a.k.a. Saint Nicholas. He lived in the 4th century and was known as a secret gift giver, often leaving coins in people’s shoes on his dedicated feast day.
- The popular procession of Santa riding a reindeer sleigh, shooting down the chimney and delivering presents first became popular in 1823, thanks to a poem published in New York called ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’ (which we now also know as ‘The Night Before Christmas’). It also described Santa as having a ‘little round belly!’
- Locals in Finland firmly believe that Santa’s real home and secret workshop rest in the fell of Korvatunturi, which can be found in the Urho Kekkonen National Park, (just near the border of Russia). This could be true, since the area is said to be populated with lots and lots of reindeer. If you’re in the area, keep your eyes peeled.
- Charles Howard opened the first Santa Claus school in 1937 in New York, and today it’s the oldest Santa school around. Howard died in 1966, but he did travel to Australia during his lifetime to teach Santa classes there!
- In Canada, children can really send letters to Santa in the North Pole by using the postcode H0H 0H0. Thanks to a specialised program run by Canada Post, anyone who sends Santa a letter using this postcode gets a reply!
- In Mexico and other countries of Latin America, kids send letters to Santa by attaching their them to (or putting them inside) helium balloons, and sending the balloons soaring up into the air.
- According to history, Mrs Claus didn’t show up until 1849, when James Rees published the short story ‘A Christmas Legend’ in Philadelphia, US. She then began cropping up in literature everywhere, and finally became popular in 1889, thanks to another poem by Katherine Lee Bates called “Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride.”
- Children are commonly thought to leave out milk and cookies for Santa or sometimes (in Australia) sherry or mince pies. In Argentina, kids often leave him apple cider and in Ireland they leave out Guinness. In France they leave out carrots for the reindeers and in Denmark it’s rice pudding for the elves!
- The largest get together of Santa Clauses took place in Thrissur, India, in 2014, when over 18,000 people dressed as Santa gathered to raise money for poverty.
- Keen to see one of the world’s coolest Santa Claus parades? Just head to Toronto, Canada, in mid-November! The parade starts at noon at Christie Pits (with Santa arriving at 12.30), lasts for around 3 hours and attracts around half a million spectators every year.
- Why do we always portray Santa as wearing a red-and-white suit? Would you believe it’s actually because of Coca-Cola? Originally, Santa could be seen in an array of colours, like purples, greens and blues. But then Coca-Cola launched an ad campaign in 1931 in the USA and depicted Santa in a red-and-white suit (to match their own logo colours). His outfit has remained so ever since!
Photo credits: wonderlane, redneck, hi_finland, Luisa, imelda, Glogger