Hello again from Pop. I guess as we all get a little bit older the time seems to go by more quickly every year. And as I take a few moments to write another Pop’s Perspective I’m looking out the window at the snow falling and piling up and realized that in a matter of just a few weeks we will be celebrating Christmas!

For our children (and yes, perhaps some of we adults) Santa Claus comes from the far North to bring presents to all children who have been “good” all the year through. And the presents delivered by Santa Claus are usually left under a Christmas tree. Perhaps the image of Santa Claus began with Saint Nicholas (270 – 310 AD) who was the patron saint of children. When he was a young man he became the Bishop of Myra, a port city by the Mediterranean Sea that is now part of Turkey.

Saint Nicholas was from a very rich family and he became known for the aid distributed to the needy. And he was frequently seen dressed in a red and white Bishop’s gown, riding a donkey and distributing presents to children.

But in the 16th century, Martin Luther tried to put a stop to the worship of saints. Indeed, the celebration of Saint Nicholas was abolished in many European countries. But with Saint Nicholas no longer in favor, others assumed the act of offering presents. For example, in Germany he became Der Weinachtsmann (“Christmas”); in France, he was Pere Noel; and in Great Brittan and the colonies he became Santa Claus.

The Danes preserved the custom of Saint Nicholas Day and the Danish children called Saint Nicholas “Sinter Klaas. And the Danish founder of New York, Peter Stuyvesant, continued the celebration of Sinter Klaas or Santa Claus according to our American pronunciation. And the name of the old man in use today in the entire Anglo-Saxon world is our beloved Santa Claus.

As history unfolded many references were made to this very popular man. For example early American media identified a “St. A. Claus”. Then in 1809 Washington Irving wrote about a Sinter Klaas in “A History of New York”. Irving went on to write that Sinter Klaas was a fat man in a Danish costume with knickers and a wide brimmed hat who went about riding a horse on Saint Nicholas evening.

And a story with which we are all familiar (“The Night Before Christmas”) comes from poet Clement Clark Moore who in 1822 published poem entitled “The Visit of St. Nicholas”. Moore description is of a merry old elf who flies in a miniature sleigh pulled by 8 miniature reindeer. Further, Moore called the reindeer by name, those still in use today, and wrote about the method by which Santa Clause gains entry to the houses of the good children – down the chimney!

Perhaps the most important contribution to our image of Santa Claus was made by illustrator Thomas Nast who envisioned Santa Claus as wearing a red gown bordered with fur, a wide leather belt and black boots. And it was Nast who is credited with the story of the North Pole where Santa Claus has his home and a workshop where all sorts of toys are made. It is also said that Santa Claus has a list of all the good children and another list of bad children (although I really don’t think there are any of these).

So we can see that our modern day Santa Claus has evolved over many centuries and bits and pieces have been added over the years. But from Pop’s Perspective, I believe it is important to never let go of this wonderful tradition of believing in Santa. I know I do!

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Thanks for letting me share yet another of Pop’s Perspectives and watch for more in the coming months.