From Halloween onwards, the most famous person on the planet can be seen everywhere. No, I’m not talking about one of the Kardashians or a member of One Direction, but the Christmas legend; Santa Claus.
Santa, in his bright red suit, little round belly and famous white beard can be seen in every shop, every billboard and in one of the biggest adverts heralding in the festive period, the coca cola advert from the coca cola company. He is so popular there is the Santa Claus University in Colorado, that trains the Santa’s that children can visit in malls and shopping centres as he is far to busy to do that himself.
What do we actually know about the jolly man with the long white beard? Let’s see some of the most interesting facts about Santa Claus.
1) Where is Santa from?
The legend of Santa Claus is said to originate in 280AD in a place called Patara which was near Myra in modern day Turkey. However, as the legend of Santa Claus grew, many other places claimed he originated from there.
People in Sweden believe he is from deep in the woods near the Gesunda Mountains.In Finland they believe Santa is from Korvatunturi. This is a mountain that resembles the shape of a rabbits ears. Countries such as Canada, Norway, and Greensland also claim Santa comes from their country. In North Pole, Alaska, resides the Santa Claus house and is another place that claims Santa Claus originally came from there.
2) How old is Santa Claus and what’s his real name?
Santa is roughly a whooping 1750 years old! No wonder he has white hair!
The origins of Santa can be traced back to a bishop called St Nicholas who was born between 260 and 280 AD. He was famous for always helping anyone in need and his gift giving ways. His popularity spread and by the Renaissance he was one of the most popular saints in Europe. He even has his own feast day, which is celebrated on the anniversary of his death, 6th December.
The legend of St Nicholas reached the shores of the USA due to Dutch immigrants arriving in New York. In Holland, the Dutch name for St Nicholas was Sinterklaas. The US adopted this name as Santa Claus. By the end of the 18th Century a New York newspaper commented on Dutch families coming together in December and honoring the death of St Nicholas. In 1809, Washington Irving made the stories of St Nicholas popular when he referred to St Nick as the patron saint of New York.
In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore wrote the poem ‘An account from the Visit from St Nicholas’ more famously known as the ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. His poem helped Santa Claus become popular with the imagery of him, as man who flew from house to house in a sleigh pulled by reindeer on Christmas Eve. He would leave gifts of toys for all the well behaved children. In 1881, Thomas Nast drew a cartoon from the description of Santa from Moore’s poem. Nast also introduced the world to Santa’s elves and his North Pole workshop.
3) Father Christmas or Santa Claus?
The British Father Christmas originated in the 17th Century. The name Santa Claus started to be used in America a century later.
The original Father Christmas looked slightly different to the version we know and love today, his beard was not white and the red suit was green. Eventually, Father Christmas adopted some of the traits of the American Santa Claus so today both terms can be used and mean the same thing.
In fact, Father Christmas and Santa Claus are not the only names, that Santa is known by. He is also called Kris Kringle, St Nicholas, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick in English speaking countries
4) What language does Santa speak?
Santa Claus originated from the legend of St Nicholas, who lived in modern day Turkey. At the time of St Nick, that area of Turkey spoke Greek. So, it is highly likely Santa speaks Greek. He is also know to speak Finnish, Swedish and English. n the Netflix movies, The Santa Chronicles it shows Santa speaking an entirely different language to his elves called YulishAs Santa, receives millions of letters from children all over the world, who speak a variety of different languages it is highly likely he can speak more than just those languages, unless he has a fantastic translator of course.
5) How many Reindeer does Santa have?
Santa has 9 flying reindeer that help to deliver presents but that hasn’t always been the case. Santa’s reindeer were first introduced in a poem by an unknown author in 1821. It was not until 1823 poem ‘Twas the night before Christmas that the names of the first eight reindeer were introduced.
Their names are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. But what about Rudolph?
Rudolph with his bright red nose is the most famous of Santa’s reindeer. However, he wasn’t introduced until 1939 in a story by Robert L. May, ‘ Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’. Rudolph’s popularity further increased in 1949 by the famous Christmas song ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer.’
6) How many presents does Santa deliver each year?
With the population of the world being over 7 billion people , at least 1.6 billion are children. If Santa was to deliver a present to all the children in the world, that is an awful lot of gifts! However, not every child gets just one Santa present, they will get a few. Also, will every child make it onto the nice list? Assuming every child makes it onto the nice list rather than the naughty list and they will probably get more than one gift, Santa probably delivers a whooping 5 billion presents every Christmas Eve! (Not every child celebrates Christmas, that has not been taken into consideration)
In more recent traditions parents are gifting an early surprise to their children. A letter from Santa given before Christmas day heightens the excitement for the child and lets them know whether they’ve made it onto the all important ‘nice list’!
7) How quickly must Santa’s sleigh travel on Christmas Eve?
Most households have roughly 2 children, to be exact 2.67 children (and remember not all children celebrate Christmas). That means there are approximately 98 million families in the world. Jolly old St Nick has to deliver presents to 98 million households in one evening! However, he does travel through different timezones starting at the North Pole so in reality he has around 31 hours to deliver all the presents. He still has to go pretty quickly to deliver all those presents on time for children to open on Christmas Day. Not only does he deliver the presents, he also stops to eat any delicious mince pies and drink his glass of milk before heading back to his sleigh.
So assuming all households are evenly distributed across the world at 0.78 miles ( thats not true but it makes any calculations easier), he has a total trip of 75.5 million miles. This means thats Santa’s sleigh is moving at an incredibly fast 650 miles per second. That is 3000 times the speed of sound! This makes Santa’s sleigh the fastest vehicle around. The fastest non magical man made object can only move a slow 27.4 miles per second. Those magical reindeer can sure move at speed!
8) Why does Santa have a red suit?
Many people believe the loved image of the Santa Claus of today in his bright red suit was introduced by Coca cola in the 1930’s. That, is not quite true.
Saint Nicholas the Bishop of Myra in the 4th Century (the patron saint of children and gift giving), was said to wear red and white costume when he handed out gifts to the poor. Father Christmas in England was originally in green robes, that over time and from different influences have turned red. The American Santa Claus based on the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas (based on Saint Nicholas) was more like the figure we know and love today. The likes of Washington Irving and Clement Clark Moore helped to create that famous image of the jolly old man who liked to ‘Ho Ho Ho.’
Moore’s 1822 poem ‘ ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ depicted Santa as dressed in fur, with a beard as white as snow. He had a broad face, a little round belly that shook when he laughed‘ In a letter version of the poem, the cartoon with it depicted Santa as wearing yellow!
It wasn’t until the 1870’s when the cartoonist Thomas Nast introduced his iconic picture of Santa in a red suit. Nast had previously depicted Santa in a stars and stripes costume, as well as a green costume but by the time his most famous image of Santa Claus was published in 1881 it represented the jolly, goody Santa Claus depicted in ‘was the Night before Christmas’ but this time he had a bright red suit and hat, big black boots and a black belt.
Some people did not want to accept that as the colour of Kris Kringle suit and books were published in the early 1900’s that saw him in a grey suit. However, after the release of the Coca cola company advert in 1931 which showed a red suited santa drinking a coke in the same image as Nasts’s jolly old man with a snow white beard the modern image of Santa was born.
9) Has Santa always been married?
Marriage is a relatively recent thing for Santa. The original St Nick, the Bishop of Myra in Turkey, was unlikely to have had a wife. It wasn’t until 1849 a Mrs Claus was first mentioned. This was in the short story ‘A Christmas Legend’ by James Rees. She has then been mentioned quite regularly in festive tales since then. She is said to be 228 years old, however other sources claim her to be 1139 years old! No one really knows, however she is now essential for any Santa story! Although it would be great to know if they got married in the North Pole.
Mrs Claus is depicted as being warm and kind hearted just like her husband and she helps out in Santa’s workshop every December by either making toys or getting the reindeer ready. This is to make sure Santa Claus leaves in his sleigh on time!
10) Can I track Santa Claus on Christmas?
If you are excited to see Santa Claus’s epic sleigh ride across the world on Christmas eve, click the link below!