Santa Claus Worldwide

A History of St. Nicholas and Other Holiday Gift-Bringers

This is a comprehensive history of the world’s midwinter gift-givers, showcasing the extreme diversity in their depictions as well as the many traits and functions these characters share. It tracks the evolution of these figures from the tribal priests who presided over winter solstice celebrations thousands of years before the birth of Christ, to Christian notables like St. Martin and St. Nicholas, to a variety of secular figures who emerged throughout Europe following the Protestant Reformation. Finally, it explains how the popularity of a poem about a “miniature sleigh” and “eight tiny reindeer” helped consolidate the diverse European gift-givers into an enduring tradition in which American children awake early on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought.

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