Tonight
households across the world will be full of very excited children leaving out
glasses of milk for Santa and carrots for his reindeers, hoping that when they
wake up in the morning he has left them presents.

Santa
is known by many names – Santa, Father Christmas, Santa Claus and the one that is
believed to be behind the tradition of gift-giving, Saint Nicholas
himself. The legendary bishop was well
known for being generous to the poor and was once believed to have thrown gold
coins through the windows of a poor family’s home so they were able to get
their daughters married. Is this also
where the tale of Santa entering homes, as if by magic, and leaving presents
under the tree comes from?

Santa
Claus is believed to get from house to house by sleigh pulled by flying
reindeers; Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen,
who are based on the reindeers used in the 1823 poem ‘The Night Before
Christmas’ (originally known as ‘A Visit from St Nicholas’). It is also why reindeers have become as
popular a Christmas symbol as Santa Claus and Christmas Trees. Rudolph, has since joined the list of Santa’s
reindeers due to the increasing popularity of the Christmas song ‘Rudolph, the
red nosed reindeer.’

As
for the way Santa looks we can thank the painter Moritz Schwind who based Santa
on the character of Winter, who appeared as an old man with a long beard and
this image has been associated with Santa.
The suit he wore was depicted in either red, green or brown with no one
colour used more than the others. When
Coca Cola used the image of Santa Claus for their Christmas advertising in the
1930s, they made his suit red with a white trim and since then it has always
been red and white.

Today
children all around the world can send letters to Santa Claus at the North
Pole, sing about Rudolph his red nosed reindeer and Dancer and Prancer and
leave their stockings at the end of their beds or over the fireplace hoping
when they wake up they will be filled with presents. Christmas is a magical time when you believe
in Father Christmas.

Whichever
tale you believe as to how Santa Claus came about or why he is dressed the way
he is not what matter, as Santa Claus is only one thing that makes Christmas a
special time, along with quality time with family and friends, giving gifts of
love and remembering all those less fortunate in the world.