The European Christian saint, kind Bishop Nicholas became Santa Claus in America over many decades. The first Europeans who arrived in the New World brought St. Nicholas and his stories with them. In the sixteenth century, reformers and counter-reformers took every step possible to curb the Saint Nicholas-related customs, but they could not succeed. The common people in Europe loved the saint so much that not only did his customs survive in the European subcontinent, but they were later carried overseas as well.
After the American Revolution, John Pintard, founder of the New York Historical Society, promoted St. Nicholas as patron saint of both society and city. In the early nineteenth century, an early American writer named Washington Irving joined the Society. He published the satirical fiction, Knickerbocker's History of New York that year on St. Nicholas day.
St. Nicholas was portrayed as a humorous and jolly character in this work of fiction. Among other things, it was first remarked here that St. Nicholas comes down chimneys to bring gifts to children. On December 06, 1810, the New York Historical Society held its first St. Nicholas Anniversary dinner, and artist Alexander Anderson drew the first image of St. Nicholas for the Americans. In the drawing St. Nicholas was shown as a gift giver, filling children’s hanging stockings with treats.
The image transformation of St. Nicholas into a jolly elf character was further aided by a poem written in 1823, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which is now popular as “The Night Before Christmas. ” The poem is believed to be a work of Clement Clark, but some other sources suggest that it was written by Henry Livingston in the year 1807 or 1808. Regardless of who wrote the poem, it had an immense role to play in creating “Santa Claus.”
In 1863, a cartoonist named Thomas Nast started a series of sketches in Harper’s Weekly, which established Santa as a rotund, jolly character who had a long white beard and wore red fur clothes. Nast’s drawings appeared in the paper till 1886 and played a considerable role in forming the American Santa Claus. Not just the appearance of St. Nicholas, but his name also changed (to Santa Claus) from the German Sankt Niklaus and the Dutch Sinterklaas.
Santa was portrayed in a variety of ways by several artists, but by the end of the 1920s, consistent works by popular illustrators boosted Santa’s image as it is seen today. The final “stamp” on the image were the Coca Cola Santa advertisements started by Haddon Sundblom in 1931.
They widely popularized Santa and established his image as part of our commercial culture. By the end of the 1950s Santa could be seen everywhere, endorsing a wide variety of products. The enormous commercial success of Santa spilled him over and across seven seas, making him a familiar friendly face in all continents. It has been an amazing transformation from the fourth century Saint Nicholas to the present day jolly Santa Claus.