What do you know about Santa Clause？
Pre-reading discussion：10-15 minutes.
(i)Which country does Santa Clause come from?
(ii) How many years ago did the legend of Santa Clause start?
(iii)Why does he give presents to children?
(iv)Why does Santa Clause come on December 25th?
Santa Claus， also known as St Nick, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas known across the globe as a jolly fat bearded man sporting a red suit trimmed with white fur. 0n Christmas Eve Santa Claus enters the home of good children, usually via the chimney, bearing gifts of toys that his elves have been busy making all year long. Parents know Santa Claus as a symbol of the magic and joy of childhood, if not a bruise to their pocketbooks!
Despite the well-known attributes of the man named Santa Claus, he actually has a long, rich history. The western idea of Santa Claus is a combination of the European traditions of Kris Kringle, Father Christmas and the Christian Saint Nicholas.
Kris Kringle derived from the German “Christkindl” which translates to Christ Child in English. The German version of Kris Kringle portrayed a sprightly young boy that brought gifts to the chldren in the Germanic countries. Although Kris Kringle is used interchangeably with Santa Claus in the U.S.， the traditional Kris Kringle is very different from the moderm idea of Santa Claus.
In fact, the idea of Santa Claus as we know him today has been imported to these countries replacing the traditions of the Christ Child.
Like Chris Kringle, Father Christmas shares some attributes with Santa Claus. Father Christmas was a traditional figure during the Pagan celebration of the Winter Solstice. Instead of bringing gifts to homes, Father Christmas also known as 0ld Man Winter, would travel from home to home where the people would offer him food and drink. In recturn he would grant them the blessings of a kind winter.
During the 1800s， the American version of Santa Claus spread to Britain where Father Christmas assimilated Santa’s attributes. To this day, Father Christmas serves as Britain’s version of Santa Claus. Like Chris Kringle, Father Christmas is used interchangeably with Santa Clause in the United States.
St. Nicholas was the biggest influence on the Santa Clause we know today. St. Nicholas was a man of Greek origin born in the third century C.E. His family was very wealthy but both died in a plague. Surviving the epidemic， St. Nick took his strict Christian upbringing very seriously and devoted his life to God.
St. Nicholas rid himself of all his material possessions and set out to help the poor, the infirm,or anyone else who was suffuring. Word of his generosity and kindness spread and he quickly earned the reputation of a gift giver and saint. The historical St. Nicholas died in December of 335 C.E.(Common Era＝AD)As often happens， stories of his good deeds became grander and grander and it is difficult to determine fact from fiction.
0ne popular story of St. Nicholas describes how he secretly left bags of gold to three poor women who had no dowries, In St. Nick’s time， a father could only secure the marriage of his・・（continued）
Cont… daughters by providing a dowry to her would-be husband. If a father could not afford a dowry, his daughters would likely be sold into slavery. In order to prevent this， St. Nicholas threw the bags of gold through a window which landed in stockings left by the fire to dry.News of this deed resulted in children leaving their stockings out for St Nicholas to fill with goodies.
The stories of St. Nicholas certainly did not die with him. In fact St. Nicholas achieved a sort of immortality as the man behind the legend of Santa Claus.
ln Europe the legend of Santa Claus has been celebrated for centuries with each country having their own traditions surrounding him. Santa Claus was very popular in the middle ages and had many churches built out of devotion for him. Santa Claus was also highly esteemed by the Vikings and was considered the patron saint of ships. In the 8th century C.E.， the Vikings helped to spread the good name of Santa Claus in their travels， Santa Claus was introduced to North America by Dutch settlers who knew St. Nicholas as Sint Klaas.
Santa Clause’ History in brief
1600’s : The Puritans made it illegal to mention St. Nicolas’ name, People were not allowed to exchange gifts ,light a candle，or sing Christmas carols.
17th century : Dutch immigrants brought with them the legend of Sinter Klaas.
1773: Santa first appeared in the media as St.A Claus，
1804:The New York Historical Society was founded with St.Nicolas as its patron saint, Its members engaged in the Dutch practice of gin-giving al Christmas.
1822,;Dentist Clement Clarke Moore is believed by many to have written a poem ”An
Account of a visit from Sajnt Nicolas,”which became better known as ”The Night before Christmas. ” Santa is portrayed as an elf with a miniature sleigh equipped with eight reindeer which are named in the poem as Blitzem, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Dasher, Donder, Prancer，and Vixen. 0thers attribute the poem to a contemporary, Henry Livingston, Jｾr. Two have since been renamed Donner and B11tzen.
1841: J.W. Parkinson, a Philadelphia merchant, hired a man to dress up in a ”Criscringle”outfit and climb the chimney of his store.
1920’s:The image of Santa had been standardized to portray a bearded, over-weight,jolly man dressed m a red suit with white trim.
1949:Johlmy Marks wrote the song ”Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer･ ” Rudolph was
relocated to the North Pole where he was initially rejected by the other reindeer, who wouldn’t let him play in their reindeer games because of his strange looking nose. The song was recorded by Gene Autry and became his all-time best seller. Next to ”White Christmas” lt is the most popular song of all time.