The story behind Santa Claus – it started in New York

‘Santa’s Portrait’ by Thomas Nast, published in Harper’s Weekly, 1881

The spirit of Christmas is universal, but the embodiment of that perennially popular Yuletide figure, Santa Claus, has a history that began in the unlikeliest of places – New York.

For centuries, European artists had depicted St. Nicholas, the patron saint of Christmas, as a dour medieval bishop with a long, gray beard.  It was not until 1863 that Thomas Nast, father of American political cartooning, introduced a far more endearing version of the character, one whose robust good cheer and imaginative North Pole-based mythology was both approachable and believable to children. Over the course of time, Nast would dramatically change all traditional conceptions of the Christmas benefactor, whose other “aliases” included Kris Kringle, Father Christmas and, later, Santa Claus.

Click to read the full story of Nast’s most enduring creation.

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