American Santa personifies Christmas

By Wendy Arquilla

He goes by many different names. Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Pere Noel and Father Christmas are just a few.

He is Santa Claus.

The origin of Santa Claus goes far back into the fourth century to a bishop in Asia Minor named Nicholas. Renown for his kindness and generosity and viewed as a guardian to young children, he was given Christian sainthood and remembered as Saint Nicholas.

The legend of Saint Nicholas was celebrated in European cultures on Dec. 6, Saint Nicholas Day. The day was celebrated with a feast including games and toys for children.

The Dutch settlers brought the Saint Nicholas day celebration to America where the celebration soon became associated with Christmas.

That wasn’t the only thing that changed. Saint Nicholas was Americanized to Santa Claus. His appearance changed as well. The original Santa was a thin, colorful bishop in a red hat and cloak. He was not the fat, jolly, red-suited Santa we all know.

Santa is an American personification of Christmas. He also makes up a favorite part of Christmas memories for a lot of people.

Students shared their favorite Santa memories with The Northern Star.

Junior marketing major Jill Johnson said, “When I was younger, my family and I used to spend Christmas Eve at my grandmother’s house, which was three hours away from us. I was always afraid Santa wouldn’t find me even though my parents said he would. So I would lay in bed awake until I heard Santa landing on the roof.”

Junior management major Christy Rapp said, “My cousins and I were misbehaving at the family Christmas party and all of a sudden the doorbell rang. The whole family was in the house so my cousins and I were really curious to see who it was. When we opened the door, there was a bag full of coal and soot on the doorstep. Our parents told us Santa left it because of our behavior.”

Tom Owens, a senior majoring in communications, shared this story. “When I was five years old, I went to go see one of those mall Santas. I was so scared of him that I threw up in his beard. The Santa threw me off his lap and told the elves to ‘Get this kid out of here.'”

Sophomore English major Jon Grell said, “I went downstairs to the family party and saw Santa doing shots of Jack Daniels and hitting on my aunts. I knew something weird was going on around then.”

Senior English major Lisa Scott said, “I ran downstairs Christmas Eve and found my parents surrounded by wrapping paper and eating Santa’s cookies. I asked them what they were doing, and they said they were eating the extra cookies. I didn’t believe them and at that point I knew there was no Santa Claus.”