The real St. Nicholas was born in Turkey, he was bishop of the Turkish town of Myra in the early 4th century. His name is surrounded by numerous legends. In one he is said to travelled from his home to deliver baskets of fruit and grain and honey cakes to hungry children in the West.
In the early USA his name was ‘Kris Kringle’ (from the Christkind). Later, Dutch settlers in the USA took the old stories of St. Nicholas with them and Kris Kringle and St Nicholas became ‘Sinterklaas’ or as we now say ‘Santa Claus’!
Father Christmas was originally part of an old English midwinter festival, normally dressed in green, a sign of the returning spring. He was known as ‘Sir Christmas’, ‘Old Father Christmas’ or Old Winter’.
Santa Claus arrived in England in the 1850s and Father Christmas started to take on Santa’s attributes.
In this earliest form, Father Christmas was not the bringer of gifts for small children, nor did he come down the chimney. He simply wandered around from home to home, knocking on doors and feasting with families before moving on to the next house.
The traditional belief in Santa Claus leaving presents for children stems from a pagan custom of exchanging gifts at this time of year.
Images of Father Christmas (Santa Claus) dressed in red started appearing on Christmas cards in the late Victorian times.
Although times have changed, one thing hasn’t; Santa Claus makes his journey on Christmas Eve every year to visit all the girls and boys on his ‘good’ list!