The legend of Santa Claus arose in Scandinavia thousands of years ago, and there is a theory that, the Santa Claus was the Odin. During the winter, Odin often took nightly rides with his horse Sleipnir through his lands, praised virtue, punished vice, and brought gifts to the people. Regarding the identity of Santa Claus, according to some legends it is the descendant of Odin, there is also a theory that it is Saint Nicholas of Myra, and some people believe it is based on a philanthropic old man named Nicholas. So, who on earth is the Santa Claus?
Is the Santa Claus the descendant of Viking god Odin? Actually it is just one of the theories. And the theories about the identity of this white-beard old man abound.
Odin in the Norse mythology
It is said the Santa Claus arose in Scandinavia thousands of years ago. Odin is the god associated with wisdom, art, poetry and battle in the Norse mythology. During the winter, he often took nightly rides with his horse Sleipnir through his lands, praised virtue, punished vice, and brought gifts to the people. Meanwhile, using thunder as weapon, his son Thor had a fierce battle with Jötunns and finally triumphed. After all, according to heathenish legends, the Santa Claus is the descendant of Odin.
Nocholas the white-beard old man
There are many stories about Santa Claus widely circulated in Europe. The most well-known and touching one is that, in the 3rd century when the Christmas was just set up, there was an old man who was rich but also philanthropic. Every winter he travelled around on a reindeer sleigh, generously offered help to those who were in poverty or who needed help. Once on Christmas Eve, he passed a town and heard that a girl from a poor family was going to marry, but she was very glum because she had no dowry or nice wedding dress. Sympathized with this girl, the old man threw a bag of gold into the girl’s window at the midnight. Due to the darkness and haste, the bag fell into the stocking hung beside the fireplace. In the next morning when the girl woke up, she found the gold amazedly but also delightly. With the old man’s help, the girl had a decent and joyful wedding.
Besides the gold to the poor, this old man also brought gifts like candies and toys to kids on Christmas Eve. But instead of giving the gifts in public, he always threw them into the chimneys at the midnight, left the kids surprises in the morning. Over time, people found these gifts were from a white-beard benignant old man who wore red coat and red hat, held a cane, and took a reindeer sleigh. Accordingly, these old man named Nicholas was called the Santa Claus. But Santa Claus did not only come with gifts, those naughty kids would not get any gifts, instead they would get a little spanking.
Saint Nicholas the bishop
Legends of Santa Claus originates from Western folklores. It is said the Santa Claus was a rich man named Saint Nicholas. He lived in Myra of Asia Minor (in modern Turkey) in the 4th century, he was kind, generous and especially nice to kids. The Orthodox Churches respected Nicholas and regarded him as a man who could create miracles. Nicholas was born in a rich Christian family, but his parents passed away early, so he donated his wealth to the poor, joined the church and provided lifelong service to the community.
Nicholas became a priest and was promoted to bishop later. After his death, people called him the Saint, a white-beard old man wearing red coat and red hat. Nicholas did countless good deeds in his life. He always stealthily helped the poor, and gradually he was affectionately called the Santa Claus.
As a matter of fact, today Santa Claus is just an element for foiling the Christmas atmosphere. It does not really matter if the Santa Claus is a real-life character in history or just a derivative image of some ancient mythic figure.