The concept of the American Santa Claus originated with St. Nicholas, who was born in Asia Minor about 280. He was known as a kind, benevolent man and made a saint because of his generosity. In honor of St. Nicholas, December 6 became the traditional day in Europe for the exchange of Christmas gifts and the beginning of the holiday season. Dutch immigrants to the United States brought with them their version of the gift-giving St. Nicholas, known as “Sinter Klass.” Americans, unaccustomed to the Dutch pronunciation, turned this into “Santa Claus,” who is beloved as as symbol of Christmas by children of all ages.
Artists vary their depiction of Santa based on his activities, season of the year, ethnicity and more. Here are three of our favorite Santa pieces this year:
Jim Shore’s Santas Around the World series is popular with collectors. He added three Santas to the line in 2016, including this Norwegian Santa. We can just hear him wishing friends and family a “God Jul”! Bright flowers and charming scrollwork decorate Santa’s flowing robe in the distinctive folk-art style known as “rosemaling” that originated in rural Norway.
Nothing like enjoying a Coke with Santa! If you’re looking for a gift for the Coke fan in your life, here’s the “real thing”!
Bronner’s joyfully celebrates the reason for the season: the birth of Christ our Savior! This piece by folk artist Jim Shore depicts a woodland Santa kneeling at the manger, surrounded by forest creatures. The woodland theme, including winter whites; beiges; natural elements like chipped wood, birch, pine cones and bark; faux fur; forest creatures; and accents of gold and silver were popular in 2016 and look to be popular again in 2017.
Share a photo of your favorite St. Nicholas or Santa in the comments below!