The British Father Christmas has his origins in both a Christian figure and a pagan deity. The Christian figure was Saint Nicholas of Myra. St Nicholas was a 4th Century Greek bishop, famousfor his generous gifts to the poor. One story of St Nicholas has him throwing a bag of gold coins into a house where they land in a stocking drying by the fire. The pagan deity was Odin. Odinwas an important god of the Germanic people. Odin rode through the sky on an eight-legged horse called Sleipnir. Odin was described as having a long beard. Children would fill their boots withstraw and carrots or sugar and place them near the chimney of the house for Sleipnir. To thank them for feeding his horse Odin would replace the food with presents or sweets. It’s easy to seehow Odin and St Nicholas became associated with Santa Claus.
Associate = assume to be one and the same.
Children in Britain still hang a stocking up by the chimney on Christmas Eve.
ChristmasEve – December 24th, the day before Christmas day.
Stocking – another word for a sock, through normally a long sock.
They also leave a mince pie or a carrot for Santa’s reindeer and a glassof sherry for Santa. Mince pie a pastry case filled with rich fruits and sugar. In Britain Father Christmas is also known as Santa (Saint) or Santa Claus (Saint Nicholas). The Father Christmaswe know today arrived in Britain in the 17th Century. His cloak was originally green-the evergreen color of holly and mistletoe.
Cloak – long, heavy covering secured at the shoulders, havingno sleeves but often with a hood for the head.
The modern image we have of him began in the poem, A visit from St. Nicholas, by Clement Clarke Moore. 1822 The poem also has Santa Claus ridingin a sleigh pulled by reindeer and delivering presents down the chimney. Thomas Nast, an American cartoonist, first drew Santa as we know him today. The picture appeared on the cover of
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