Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Who is Santa Claus?

I gave a talk recently to the ladies of Springbrook and Scraptoft Women’s Institute about the origins of Father Christmas.

“Who is Santa Claus?” is one of the special talks that I give to groups in the period leading up to Christmas.

I talked about the early Christian Bishop, St. Nicholas, who is said to have sent money anonymously down a chimney to save young girls from having to work.

I talked about the Dutch tradition of Sinter Klaas and his friend Black Peter, who visit in December to reward the children who have been good, and punish the others.

I also included the mediaeval Father Christmas figure who was a staple of the traditional mumming plays.

Then there’s the Norse god Wotan, and his Wild Hunt across the skies in winter, looking for lost souls.

And the Siberian shamen, who made good use of everything from the reindeer, including its fur and skin worn inside out.

I read “A Visit From St. Nicholas”, the poem which introduced the idea of the individual reindeer having names.

And the Coca-Cola company, who were to a large extent responsible for the jolly image that we all love today.

The ladies were enthralled at the many facets of this extraordinary personage.

I also give some other talks at Christmas time, all of which are available to groups.

The Holly and the Ivy” looks at the background to Christmas customs. “Ding Dong Merrily On High” looks at the stories behind everybody’s favourite Christmas carols. And “Jingle All the Way” highlights some of the most popular seasonal songs, such as “White Christmas”, “Jingle Bells” and “I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day”.