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Santa Claus

In the UK, Santa Claus is depicted as living in the North Pole, wears a red suit and delivers presents to every child all over the world. But how did the tradition of Santa Claus originate?

St. Nicholas, or ‘Saint Nick’ was a bishop who lived in the fourth century. When his parents died, he was left a lot of money which he used to give gifts to those less fortunate. The most famous tale about St. Nicholas is one which is widely regarded around the world, which tells the story of how the custom of hanging up stockings to get presents first began.

The story talks of a man who had three daughters. He was so poor that he couldn’t afford for his daughters to get married. One night, Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the man’s chimney into the house (This is where the tradition of Santa Claus climbing through the chimney came from.) The bag of gold fell into a stocking hung up by the fireplace. This same act was repeated for the second daughter. When the father realised what was happening, he waited by the fireplace in hope of finding out who was giving him the gold. When he caught Nicholas delivering the third bag of gold, Nicholas pleaded with him to not reveal who he was as he didn’t want to draw attention to him. However, Nicholas’ secret soon got out and whenever anybody received a gift, they presumed that it was from Nicholas himself. Due to Nicholas’ extreme generosity, he was made a Saint.

In different countries, St. Nick has different names. For example, in the UK he is seen as ‘Father Christmas’, which in France translates to ‘Père Nöel’, and in German the ‘Christ Kind’. However, in the USA he was known as ‘Kris Kringle’, and when Dutch settlers adapted the story, he soon became known as ‘Sinterklass’, or more commonly, ‘Santa Claus’.


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