Santa Claus: the legendary patron saint of children

The name Santa Claus first shows up in American English in 1773.  Before then, Santa Claus was known as Sante Klaas, which itself comes from the old Dutch name for the saint: Sinter Niklaas.  Today, in Holland, he is known as Sinterklaas.  The name Sinterklaas comes from Saint Nicholas, who according to tradition was born in 270 A.D. and died on December 6, 343 A.D.

Among other things, Saint Nicholas was known for his secret gift giving habit.

On a personal note, I do not remember believing in Santa Claus as a kid.  The reindeer/Santa Claus story made no sense to me.

However, I vividly remember believing in Sinterklaas.  My family lived in Holland for four years when I was young.  In Holland, Sinterklaas rides a horse.  My sister and I would leave our wooden shoes outside filled with carrots and radishes.  The next morning, we would find gifts in our house.  When we opened the door, we would seen a few remaining scraps of carrots and radishes around our shoes.  That was enough to convince me.


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