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Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved ("good" or "nice") children on Christmas Eve (24 December) and the early morning hours of Christmas Day (25 December).
The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas (a fourth-century Greek bishop and gift-giver of Myra), the British figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas (himself also based on Saint Nicholas).
Pre-modern representations of the gift-giver from Church history and folklore, notably St Nicholas (known in Dutch as Sinterklaas), merged with the English character Father Christmas to create the character known to Americans and the rest of the English-speaking world as "Santa Claus" (a phonetic derivation of "Sinterklaas").
In the English and later British colonies of North America, and later in the United States, British and Dutch versions of the gift-giver merged further.
In continental Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany) he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes. In 1087, the Italian city of Bari mounted an expedition to locate the tomb of the Saint. Nicholas was conquered by Italian sailors and his relics were taken to Bari where they are kept to this day.
A basilica was constructed the same year to store the loot and the area became a pilgrimage site for the devout.
This image became popular in the United States and Canada in the 19th century due to the significant influence of the 1823 poem "A Visit from St.
Nicholas" and of caricaturist and political cartoonist Thomas Nast.
Nicholas, to focus the interest of the children to Christ instead of the veneration of saints.
For example, in Washington Irving's History of New York (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into "Santa Claus" (a name first used in the American press in 1773) but lost his bishop's apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat. We are all sad; no loud, jovial laugh from our boys is heard.
Irving's book was a lampoon of the Dutch culture of New York, and much of this portrait is his joking invention. This has usually been a very busy day with me, preparing for Christmas not only for my own tables, but for gifts for my servants. Christmas Eve, which has ever been gaily celebrated here, which has witnessed the popping of firecrackers …
Nicholas, the patron of sailors, was built on the San Nicolò al Lido.
This tradition was confirmed in two important scientific investigations of the relics in Bari and Venice, which revealed that the relics in the two Italian cities belong to the same skeleton.Martin Luther first suggested the Christkind as the bringer of gifts.