Ann Maria Joji
Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy, or simply Santa is a figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins who, in many Western cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of good children on 24 December, the night before Christmas day. The modern figure of Santa Claus is derived from the British figure of Father Christmas, the Dutch figure of sinterklaas, and, St. Nicholas the historical Greek bishop and gift-giver of Myra. This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of the 1823 poem “A visit from St. Nicholas “and of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Saint Nicholas of Myra was a 4th-century Greek Christian bishop of Myra (now Demre) in Lycia, a province of the Byzantine Empire, now in Turkey. Nicholas was famous for his generous gifts to the poor, in particular presenting the three impoverished daughters of a pious Christian with dowries so that they would not have to become prostitutes. He was very religious from an early age and devoted his life entirely to Christianity. In continental Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Germany) he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes.
The tradition of Santa Claus entering dwellings through the chimney is shared by many European seasonal gift-givers. In pre-Christian Norse tradition, Odin would often enter through chimneys and fire holes on the solstice. In the Italian Befana tradition, the gift-giving witch is perpetually covered with soot from her trips down the chimneys of children’s homes. In the tale of Saint Nicholas, the saint tossed coins through a window, and, in a later version of the tale, down a chimney when he finds the window locked.