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8 Things You Didn't Know About Santa

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by Julie Mundy (subscribe)
Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog:
Published November 24th 2012
International Man of Mystery
So, I have to confess - I am a lover of all things Christmas; a total believer in the magic, the malarkey, the get togethers, the preparation. I read my kids 'The Night Before Christmas', every year, we sing, we open the advent calendars. And most of all we look forward to Santa and his logic-defying delivery of the global mother-lode of a gift to every child. Here's some things you might NOT know about the magical man of the moment:

Sinterclauss (Source: Wikicommons)
Sinterclaus in all his regal but not jolly glory.

1. Santa Claus was once a real man: a 4th century bishop from modern-day Turkey, Saint Nikolas of Myra. He was also known locally as Nikoalas the Wonderworker. So he clearly got the message that he was going to go above-and-byond very early in the piece. 'Sinterklauss' is his quite serious Dutch incarnation, and is the lad who introduced the 'naughty and nice' booking system for children.

2. According to the 'Encyclopedia for Christmas', there are over 20,000 'Santas for hire' in the USA each year. Most of them participate in Santa training which teaches them how to be jolly no matter what, not to accept money (bribes?) from parents, and advises them on diet - beans, garlic and onions are a no-no before a big Santa session apparently.

Seasonal Santa in Canada (Source: Wikicommons)
Seasonal Santa

3. The first ever artist's depiction of Santa Claus as we know him today was on the cover of US magazine Harpers Weekly by German-born Thomas Nast in 1861 and depicted the hardships experienced by the Union during the American Civil War. In 1881, Nast did a wood engraving for the magazine, of the more jolly chap we recognise today.
Thomas Nast's cover of Harpers Weekly, depicting Santa Claus (Source: Wikicommons)
Thomas Nast's cover of Harpers Weekly, depicting Santa Claus
Thomas Nast: Harpers Weekly cover (Source: Wikicommons)
Thomas Nast: Harpers Weekly cover

4. Santa Claus, in his guise of St Nicholas, is also the patron saint of a rather motley crew of professions, including: pirates, butchers, thieves, bankers, pawnbrokers, children, orphans, sailors and New York City, Amsterdam and Moscow.

5. Scientists with not much to do, have worked out that, in order to deliver presents to all 378 million of the world's Christmas-believing children in one night, Santa and his team of tireless reindeer have to travel at 3,000 times the speed of sound which will exert 17,500 G-forces on the poor red-suited super hero.

6. The World Record for the largest ever gathering of Santas is held by Derry, Northern Ireland, when in 2010, 12,965 red-dressed fellows got together for a ho-ho-ho.
Guinness Book of World Records: Largest Gthering of Santas (Source: Guinness Book of World Records)
Guinness Book of World Records: Largest Santa Gathering.

7. Santa is an international man of mystery with many pseudonyms: In Turkey and Iran he is known as Noel Baba. In Norway, Juelnissen; Hawaii: Kanakaloka. In Chile he is Viejo Pascalero (Old Man Christmas) My all time favourite is his Russian name: Ded Moroz (Grandpa Frost).

Mr and Mrs Santa Clause, Hawaii (Source: Wikicommons)
Mr and Mrs Kanakaloka, Hawaii

8. And finally, in case you were wondering, yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, as confirmed by the editor of the New York Sun in 1897, in response to a letter from Virginia O'Hanlon, the 8 year old daughter of a local coroner's assistant:
Clipping from The Sun (source: Wikicommons)
Original clipping from the Sun of editor's response to Virginia's famous letter
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Why? Because who doesn't want to know about this international man of mystery?
Where: On a rooftop near you, this Christmas eve
Cost: Free
Your Comment
That was lovely to hear, thank you,
by p.fis (score: 0|6) 2209 days ago
Great article! I found point 5 hilarious.

by Rayna (score: 2|204) 2195 days ago
Thank you - you can probably tell I absolutely love Christmas as well! Glad you enjoyed it. Julie
by Julie Mundy (score: 3|1728) 2208 days ago
Fascinating - and you were right, I didn't know any of those facts. I found the first one about the real Saint Nikolas the most interesting.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12104) 2207 days ago
Delightful article, and clipping at the end. It has made christmas even more special.
by selec (score: 1|16) 2208 days ago
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