Think you know it all about the jolly man in the big red suit? Here are some fun Santa facts to share under the tree to impress your loved ones, from Michael J. Leclerc, Chief Genealogist at genealogy site Mocavo.com.
· The original Saint Nicholas was actually a fourth-century bishop whose passion was giving gifts to the poor. By the Middle Ages, children were given presents on his feast day, December 5—not December 25.
· In England, Father Christmas dates back to Henry VIII and starts to be more familiar—A large man in green and scarlet-red fur-lined robes. (Does that outfit ring a bell?) Since England no longer celebrated St. Nicholas’ feast day, the appearance of Father Christmas moved to December 25.
· In France, it was Pére Noël who brought presents. Children left carrots for his reindeer (as opposed to sugar cookies for Santa!).
· Clement Moore penned “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1823 and brought us the sleigh and flying reindeer landing on the roof.
· In the Netherlands and Belgium, it is “De Goede Sint” (the Good Saint), Sinterklaas, who represents the season. This is where his fashion sense comes from: Dressed in the red and white robes of a bishop, a red mitre, and a gold crosier, the white-bearded Sinterklaas oversees the giving of presents.
· The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School was founded in 1937 to teach others how to best portray this beloved character. The school is still in operation today, in Midland, Michigan.
Ready for a Santa-related laugh? Scroll those these hilarious photos of Real Simple readers’ kids crying on St. Nick’s lap.