Santa Claus originated from Western culture. The Christmas holiday season is characterized by
the exchange of gifts among friends and family.
Some of the exchanged gifts are from a character called Santa Claus. He is also known as Father
Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Sinterklaas, Pere Noel, Joulupukki, Babbo Natale,
Weihnachtsmann, Saint Basil and Father Frost.
The image of Santa Claus was created by a German-American cartoonist Thomas Nast. He drew new
images annually beginning in 1863. By the 1880's Santa evolved into the form we now know
and recognize each year. Advertisers standardized the image in the 1920's.
Father Christmas predates Santa Claus and was first recorded in the 15th century. His image
was recreated in Victorian Britain to match Santa Claus. The French Pere Noel evolved along
similar lines and eventually adopted the Santa image. In Italy Babbo Natale acts as Santa Claus.
In some cultures Santa Claus is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. In other versions,
elves make the toys. His wife is referred to as Mrs. Claus.
The current tradition in several Latin American countries holds that while Santa makes the toys,
he then gives them to the Baby Jesus, who delivers the parcels to children's homes.
In Austria, Czech Republic, Southern Germany, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and Switzerland,
the Christkind brings the presents. The German St. Nikolaus wears a bishop's dress and still
brings small gifts such as candies, nuts and fruits on December the 6th. He is accompanied by
Knecht Ruprecht. Children around the world are taught about Santa Claus and other gift bearers.