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Santa Claus

Santa Claus

Originally, it was St Nicholas, brought to America by the Dutch colonists, who gave birth to the American Santa Claus. It first appeared under this name in 1823 in a poem attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas.

From the 1880s, Santa Claus once again crossed the Atlantic, mixing in Europe with the local traditions of St Nicholas, a strange Nordic "Winter Man" and even traditional bogeymen, such as the Hàns Tràpp Hàns Tràpp in Alsace. The result is a curious mix.

In France, he is known as "Père Noël", and in German-speaking countries as Weihnachtsmann, and in Alsace as Wihnàchtsmànn.

The imagery of 1900 is full of these Father Christmases with their changing appearance, sometimes carrying a bishop's crook, a sack full of toys or a martinet, sometimes dressed in green, red, purple or even multicoloured outfits. In 1931, an advertising campaign by Coca-Cola gave Santa the form we know today, and the influence of American Christmas made him the main distributor of gifts throughout the world.