The Rise of Santa Claus / Rohan Kapitany/ Why children really believe in Santa – the surprising psychology behind tradition

Santa Claus is a well known figure in Christmas legend, but not many people actually know he was a real person. The origin of Santa dates back to 280 A.D. when a monk named Nicholas was born in what is modern day Turkey. He became known as the patron saint of children and was believed to be the protector of children and sailors. 

Around the time of the renaissance, Saint Nicholas was the most popular saint in all of Europe, even during the Protestant Reformation when the respect for the saints was discouraged, he still stayed popular.

Saint Nicholas got the name Santa Claus because of his Dutch name Sint Nickolaas, which means Saint Nicholas. His giving gifts also goes with the legends of Saint Nicholas that said he would give all of his wealth to the poor.

Santa Claus was brought to Americans when popular newspapers reported about Dutch Immigrants honoring his death.  As he began to gain popularity in America, newspapers would make sections for holiday shopping with pictures of Santa. 

Mall Santas first started in 1841 when a Philadelphia mall made a life size Santa model that they displayed in the store. It was then further encouraged by The Salvation Army in the 1890s when they would hire unemployed men to dress as Santa. Those men would go to the city streets and ring a bell trying to collect donations.

Saint Nicholas has become known as a Christmas icon to many around the world. Though the real Santa does not drive a sleigh with reindeer, he is still remembered for his kindness.