Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Our Traditional Santa Facts
Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle or simply "Santa" is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. One legend associated with Santa says that he lives in the far north, in a land of perpetual snow. The American version of Santa Claus says that he lives at his house in the North Pole. Santa lives with his wife Mrs. Claus, a countless number of magical elves, and eight or nine flying reindeer. Another legend of Santa says that he makes a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior ("naughty" or "nice") and that he delivers presents, including toys, candy, and other gifts to all of the good boys and girls in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children, on the single night of Christmas Eve. He accomplishes this feat with the aid of the elves who make the toys in the workshop and the reindeer who pull his sleigh.
The tradition of Santa Claus entering dwellings through the chimney may reach back to the tale of Saint Nicholas tossing coins through a window, and, in a later version of the tale, tossing coins down a chimney when he finds the window locked. Rituals surrounding Santa Claus are performed throughout the world by children hoping to receive gifts from the mythical character. Some rituals (such as visiting a department store Santa) occur in the weeks and days before Christmas while others, such as preparing snacks for Santa, are specific to Christmas Eve. Some rituals, such as setting out stockings to be filled with gifts, are age-old traditions while others, such as NORAD'S tracking of Santa's sleigh through the night skies on Christmas Eve, are modern invention's. Writing letters to Santa Claus has been a Christmas tradition for children for many years. These letters normally contain a wishlist of toys and assertions of good behavior. Some people have created websites designed to allow children and other interested parties to "track" Santa Claus on Christmas Eve via radar; while in transit, Santa Claus is sometimes escorted by Canadian Air Force fighter jets. In the United States and Canada, children traditionally leave Santa a glass of milk and a plate of cookies. American children also leave a carrot for Santa's reindeer, and were traditionally told that if they are not good all year round, that they will receive a lump of coal in their stockings. OtherChristmas Eve Santa Claus rituals in the United States include reading Clement Clark Moore's A Visit from St. Nicholas or other tale about Santa Claus, watching a Santa program on television, and the singing of Santa Claus songs such as Santa Claus is 'Coming to Town, Here Comes Santa Claus, and Up on the Housetop. Last minute rituals for children before going to bed include aligning stockings at the mantlepiece or other place where Santa cannot fail to see them, peeking up the chimney (in homes with a fireplace), glancing out a window and scanning the heavens for Santa's sleigh, and (in homes without a fireplace), unlocking an exterior door so Santa can easily enter the house. Tags on gifts for children are sometimes signed by their parents, "From Santa Claus" before the gifts are laid beneath the tree. Santa Claus's home traditionally includes a residence and a workshop where he creates-often with the aid of elves or other supernatual beings-the gifts he delivers to good children at Christmas. Some stories and legends include a village, inhabited by his helpers, surrounding his home and shop.