I was born in 280 AD as Nicholas of Pata ra, a city of Lycia, in Asia Minor. Despite being quite young I earned a reputation for kindliness and wisdom. As a Christian priest, I later became a bishop and traveled the countryside helping people, giving gifts of money and other presents. I never liked to be seen giving away presents, so I visited late at night. The children of the day were told to go to sleep quickly or I would not come! Eventually I was named the patron saint of children and sailors in Russia and Greece.
In the year 303, the Roman emperor Diocletian commanded all the citizens of the Roman Empire, which included Asia Minor, to worship me as a god. As a Christian I refused to allow this and I was imprisoned for more than five years. In 313, after Diocletian resigned and Constantine came to power I was returned to my post as Bishop of Myra.By 450, churches in Asia Minor and Greece were being named in my honor. In 800 AD I was officially recognized as the a Saint by the Eastern Catholic Church. In the 1200s, December sixth began to be celebrated as Bishop Nicholas Day in France. By end of the 1400s, St Nicholas was the third most beloved religious figure, after Jesus and Mary. There were more than 2,000 chapels and monasteries named after me. In the 1500s people in England stopped worshipping St Nicholas in favor of Father Christmas, a more popular gift giving figure.
My name Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch Sinter Klass pronunciation of St Nicholas. Early Dutch settlers in New York (once called New Amsterdam) brought with them their traditions of St Nicholas. As children from other countries tried to pronounce Sinter Klass my name soon became Santa Klass, which has since evolved into Santa Claus. My old bishop’s cloak with miter, jewelled gloves and crozier have been replaced with my fur-trimmed red velvet suit and cap.I am sometimes referred to as Kriss Kringle, a name derived from the Dutch/German name Christ Kindl, a young child with a golden crown who holds a tiny “Tree of Light” and brings the gifts of the Christ Child. Once thought to be the Christchild’s chief helper, the image of Kris Kringle has evolved over time to an image of Saint Nicholas (Santa Claus) who carries a tiny Christmas tree and enters the house through a window left open. Once I have left the presents, I ring a bell allowing the household to know of my departure.
In Germany I am Weinachtsmann (Christmas man) a helper of the Christkind (Christ Child). In France I’m called Père Noël. In Scandinavian countries I have been transmuted from a Pagan Yule Goat into JoulupukkiIn. In England, as Father Christmas, I am shown with holly, ivy or mistletoe. In Russia, under the influence of communism, I’m known as Father Frost and distribute toys to children on New Year’s Eve. As the American Santa Claus I now over see the Winter Holidays, thanks to a certain brand of soda.
Children often ask me how I know what they have been doing all year long. The answer is I have my own secret channel on cable tv. They also want to know how I can deliver presents all over the world in just one night. The answer to that is throughout many countries in Europe I distribute gifts to the children on December 6th, the eve of my feast day. In other countries including the United States I bring gifts during Advent or on Christmas eve, so I really have three weeks to do my job. How did I live so long? It’s thanks to the very cold weather at the North Pole which slows down the aging process. But recently when I’m not busy with the elves at the North Pole I live in Florida where it’s a lot warmer!