The real Santa Claus

A man dressed up as Santa Claus.

Santa Claus (also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle or simply Santa) is the mythical figure who, in many Western cultures, brings gifts to the homes of the good children during the late evening and overnight hours of Christmas Eve, December 24th or on his Feast Day, December 6 (Saint Nicholas Day). Some believe that he will only deliver presents to children who have been good in the past year; those who have been bad receive coal. The legend may have part of its basis in hagiographical tales concerning the historical figure of gift giver Saint Nicholas.


While Saint Nicholas was originally portrayed wearing bishop's robes, in modern times, Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. Santa Claus' suit was originally coloured green; however, this was changed by Coka Cola, who used the figure in adverts wearing red (the predominant colour used by the company). This trend caught on and Santa Claus is not known by most people to wear red.


It is common belief among children that Santa lives in the far North, although the exact location differs. In American culture, Santa Claus is said to live in his house at the North Pole; in the United Kingdom he is said to live in Lapland. He is said to live there with his nine reindeer, numerous magical elves and his wife, Mrs. Claus (altough some people claim Santa Claus is single).


There has long been opposition to teaching children to believe in Santa Claus. Some Christians say the Santa tradition detracts from the religious origins and purpose of Christmas. Other critics feel that Santa Claus is an elaborate lie, and that it is unethical for parents to teach their children to believe in his existence. Still others oppose Santa Claus as a symbol of the commercialization of the Christmas holiday, or as an intrusion upon their own national traditions.

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