Santa Claus has become synonymous with Christmas in the West, and millions of children around the world anxiously await his arrival on Christmas Eve. Old Saint Nick has changed a lot over the years, but he has a long history stretching back centuries. Nothing beats the smile that we put on the faces of the children that see him at our specialty holiday parties, so let’s learn about the history of Santa Claus and how he continues to bring joy to us to this day.

Saintly beginnings

The history of Santa stretches back to sometime around the 3rd century when a monk now known as Saint Nicholas was born in the Eastern Roman Empire (now Turkey). He quickly became the focus of legends because of his piety and his uncommon generosity to others. Many of his legends were focused on giving his money to the poor and giving away his inherited wealth. Over the years, he became synonymous with generosity, and then became known as the protector of children. Tradition dictated that it was lucky to make large purchases on the day dedicated to his name, also known as the Feast of St. Nicholas, which commonly takes place on the 6th of December.

Early American roots

The love for Saint Nicholas came to colonial America via Dutch immigrants who celebrated the anniversary of the death of the man they affectionately called “Sinter Klaas.” Over the years he became more popular in and around New York, and legends bearing his name spread far and wide throughout the state and surrounding areas. As gift giving became more popular for charities, they adopted his name, and he began to become more popularly associated with holiday shopping.

Popularity explosion

As early as the 19th century, stores began to advertise Christmas shopping and began to use Santa Claus as a draw to get children excited and draw their parents in. Things really took off when the Salvation Army used men in Santa suits to raise money to pay for their charity meals during the holidays.

The reason for his gift-giving popularity can be attributed to the Clement Moore poem about a visit from St. Nicholas. This is where we get the images of Santa flying from house to house and giving gifts. These two things combined with the graphic depictions by artist Thomas Nast and pushes from advertisers lead to Santa becoming wildly popular worldwide. He can now be seen everywhere around world bringing gifts to kids, and riding in his sleigh pulled by reindeer.

Here at POP! Events Group, we are excited to bring Santa to our specialty holiday parties for children every year. Nothing can compare to the joy that we see in their faces when they meet Santa. It’s also inspiring to know that St. Nick has a history that stretches back nearly two thousand years, and throughout that time he has gone from a pious monk to a worldwide holiday phenomenon.