How Santa Claus was born. 200 years ago, a poet invented it for his children

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How Santa Claus was born. 200 years ago the poet invented him for his children

In 1822, the Santa Claus we all know was created by the American poet Clement Moore.

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Good Santa Claus – with a white beard, in a red suit and cap, arriving from the north on deer with a bag over his shoulders to put gifts in children's stockings – appeared only in 1822.

The prototype of Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker, aka Nicholas the Pleasant, who lived in the III-IV century AD. in Asia Minor. He came from a family of wealthy Christians and devoted himself to the service of God, becoming the archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia (modern Turkey). The tradition appeared after St. Nicholas tossed bags of gold coins to three dowry sisters (the impoverished father was about to forcefully marry off his daughters, or even sell them to a brothel). Nikolai tossed bags of coins through the window – secretly. So much so that one day he fell into a stocking … For the third time, the father ambushed the benefactor and Santa ceased to be “secret”.

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The Dutch already appointed a Saint in the 17th century Nicholas, the main one in distributing gifts before Christmas – in this country, the Christmas grandfather still wears episcopal vestments, a miter and a staff appropriate to the dignity.

In the 17th century, the Dutch began to move to America, where they founded the city of New Amsterdam (future New York). The settlers called St. Nicholas in the Dutch manner Sinter Klaas. Santa Claas was an important saint for them: he patronized sailors and orphans. It is known that on the bow of one of the Dutch frigates even his wooden figure was fixed.

The American writer Washington Irving spoke of Santa Claus in his History of New York, and this, in turn, inspired the Protestant minister and teacher Clement Moore to write the children's poem “The Visit of St. Nicholas” in 1822. In this rhyme, the father of the family sees how, on Christmas night, the “fat old elf”, riding in a team of eight reindeer, stopped, entered the house through the chimney, stuffed children’s stockings with gifts and set off, exclaiming in the end: “Merry Christmas everyone!” < /p>

So Santa Claus is 200 years old as we know him!

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What artistic tasks did Clement Moore solve? He wanted to write a winter Christmas story for his children. The prototype was a real historical person – Nikolai the Wonderworker, and the already known story about the distribution of gifts to those in special need was also used.

But for the fairy tale, a wizard-hero was needed. In the British-American folk mythological tradition, perhaps the most common magical creatures are elves. Little fairy-tale men who were responsible for some element or area: there were elves of the forest, elves of the air, houses …

Since Christmas comes in winter, the poet needed a winter elf. So, he should be dressed in a short fur coat and a hat. In the north, they ride on reindeer harnessed to a sleigh. There are many children to visit, which means that we need not an ordinary, but a modernized team, which is why there were eight deer and Clement Moore gave names to all of them. For the same reason, St. Nicholas' pouch became a large pouch. The journey will be across the country – so it's better to travel by air, that's what air elves are for!

So, at the exit, a cheerful, plump winter elf moved on a sleigh, which was carried right through the air by eight deer. Anonymity was needed, so Santa stopped on the roofs of houses and climbed through the chimney with a bag, and when he found himself in the nursery, he laid out gifts in socks and stockings hanging on the beds.

This is how the transformation of a real person happened – Nicholas the Wonderworker – into the fabulous Santa Claus, the hero of a Christmas fairy tale, traveling on reindeer and, like St. Nicholas, distributing gifts.

Here is such a chain: St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, giving gifts to the poor – distribution of gifts to children on a winter night before Christmas – the first Christmas fairy tale with Santa Claus in the title role, who has a bag of gifts and a reindeer team.

How Santa Claus was born. 200 years ago a poet invented it for his children

How was born Santa Claus. 200 years ago, the poet invented him for his children

It was twenty years before Charles Dickens wrote his “A Christmas Carol” (1843) – about the old curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge – which is considered the first Christmas story. But the first Christmas story, it turns out – for Clement Moore. His masterpiece was published in 1823 and instantly became “viral” popularity: in all American families, the rhyme began to be read on Christmas Eve to give Christmas Eve more magic.

In 1863, the American cartoonist Nast Thomas, who worked for Harper Weekly, used the character of Santa Claus from the fairy tale by Clement Moore in a series of political cartoons – in the form of a hero who gives presents.

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As a result, Thomas Nast was carried away by the image of Santa, so much so that the political context disappeared. He began to compose a biography of Santa Claus! Santa has a place to live – the North Pole. Given his “elven origin”, Nast added helpers to him: Christmas elves appeared, working all year at the toy factory – after all, gifts should be enough for everyone. Or not? Does everyone need to be gifted? Only obedient children. So Santa got a special Book where he wrote down the good and bad deeds of children. She migrated from religious sources – from the Bible, in particular – there such Books were called Heavenly or Books of Life, where the Lord entered the deeds of people. And when the crucial moment came, these Books were taken out for verification.

The appearance of Santa Claus in the drawings of Thomas Nast also changed – from a fat elderly elf in a fur suit to a more realistic grandfather in a sheepskin coat. And the red color of the fur coat and cap of Santa Claus was inherited from the same St. Nicholas, who was often depicted on icons in a red episcopal robe and in a headdress of the same color.

Thomas Nast began to portray the good deeds of Santa, like the canonical saint on the icons. In the center is a large portrait of Santa, and along its edges are many small ones with episodes from his biography. Sometimes Nast portrayed Santa making toys, according to letters in which children asked to bring this or that gift.

And after a number of writers began to write Christmas tales about Santa's adventures, where some evil forces tried every time disrupt Christmas, and a kind old man with his elf assistants thwarted their tricky plans.

The most famous image of Santa Claus is the work of Thomas Nast in 1881, where we see a cheerful, well-fed grandfather in a hat and sheepskin coat with a bunch of toys. At the same time, the first Christmas cards with this picture appeared: the Americans congratulated each other with pleasure. The commercial use of the look was extended when, in 1931, Coca-Cola advertising artist Haddon Sundblom dressed up Santa in a bright red suit with white trim, the soda's brand colors.

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In the USSR, Santa Claus was “renamed” Santa Claus, adding the Snow Maiden as his companion, and the distribution of gifts was moved from Christmas to New Year.

How Santa Claus was born. 200 years ago the poet invented him for his children< /p>

How Santa Claus was born. 200 years ago the poet invented him for his children

Since in the USSR Santa was crossed with the harsh Slavic gods responsible for the cold – Morozko, Student, etc., then his character became more rigid. For example, in the movie “Morozko” (1964), Santa Claus arranged real tests for unmarried girls, asking in the middle of the winter forest: “Are you warm, beautiful”? And he rewarded – the most worthy stepdaughter who passed all the tests.

The New Year was appointed as a time of miracles in the USSR, about which a lot of films were made – from lyrical comedies by Eldar Ryazanov to the TV movie “Magicians” (1983) based on the Strugatsky brothers.

With the collapse of the Union, the canonical figure of Santa Claus again came to the fore — and Christmas gifts (in Ukraine, St. Nicholas traditionally brings treats to children on his day — December 19).

How Santa Claus was born. 200 years ago the poet invented him for his children

How was born Santa Claus. 200 years ago, the poet invented him for his children

Over time, the image of Santa Claus has been quite modernized and changed. Movies and series are made about his adventures in the modern world. If you choose what to see for Christmas, read on Focus.ua a selection of films about Santa Claus, where he is a cool, modern grandfather, well versed in urban realities!

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