Dutch children wait for Sint-Nicolaas at Christmas, or “Sinterklaas” for short. Sinterklaas rides a white horse and travels with “Black Pete,” an assistant in blackface who brings the candy.
Washington Irving, whose Headless Horseman starred in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” first wrote that Santa “rattles down the chimney” in his satirical 1812 “History of New York.”
Saint Nicholas was a Christian bishop known for spending his inheritance to help the sick and the poor. He was born in A.D. 280 in what is part of Turkey today.
Swedish children help Santa stay awake during his long journey with a strong cup of coffee.
Coca-Cola is often credited with inventing the modern Santa image, but White Rock used him in mineral water ads in 1915, which is 15 years before Coca-Cola did.
Canada’s immigration minister announced the creation of the passports during a special ceremony in Toronto. The U.S. issued Santa a pilot’s license in 1927, however.
The U.S. comes in a distant third place. Canada is second, and France is first. French children send about 1.7 million letters to “Père Noël” every year.
Dec. 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas, was the dominant gift-exchange date in Europe until German protestants began celebrating “Christkindl,” a feast day for the Christ child, on December 25.
The candy cane’s shape emulates the staff carried by Catholic bishops (like St. Nicholas) as a symbol of their church office. A 17th century German choirmaster invented them.
Santa Claus, Indiana is home to the Santa Claus Museum, the Santa Claus Post Office, Lake Rudolph and the Santa Claus Land of Lights.