Surprisingly, the old English Santa Claus of
the Victorian Age had less of an origin in St. Nicholas as it did on the
In England, Santa Claus was a composite,
embodying the elements and spirit of Christmas as well as the spirit of
several pre-Christian legends.
The Victorian English still generally
referred to the jo11y old elf as “Father Christmas”. However, he owes
many of his roots to the ancient Roman gods such as Saturn who was thought
to bring food, wine and good fortune to the Roman Empire each year,
and the Norse gods such as Odin who was known
to roam the skies on a chariot with his
long white beard flowing.
Prior to the 1800s, Father Christmas was
portrayed in mammoth proportions, a giant in a fur-lined robe and
mistletoe headdress. Later, with some help from Clement Moore’s
illustrated edition of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1848, Santa
began to evolve toward the image we recognize today.
Whereas the Americans preferred to give
Santa a rougher, pioneer image in the mid-nineteenth century, the English
opted for a more dignified look with 1 clay pipe and elegant costuming.
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