The History and Evolution of Santa Claus

TLDR The modern version of Santa Claus can be traced back to a book written in 1809, with the poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" solidifying his iconic attributes. The image of Santa Claus was further popularized through illustrations, advertisements, and the addition of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, leading to countless different portrayals in various forms of media.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 The history and development of Santa Claus and the lore surrounding him is explored in this episode.
01:57 The development of the modern version of Santa Claus can be traced back to the 1809 book written by Washington Irving, who used the anglicized name Santa Claus instead of the Dutch Sinterklaas and portrayed him as a secular character.
03:44 The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" created the rough outline of the Santa Claus that we know today, with attributes such as being fat and jolly, having a white beard, a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, and entering homes through the chimney.
05:24 The first illustration of Santa Claus appeared in 1863, depicting him on a sled pulled by reindeer and dressed in an outfit made of the American flag, and later illustrations by Thomas Nast solidified the image of Santa Claus, including the idea that he lived at the North Pole, while the concept of Mrs. Claus emerged over time and was given the name Jessica in Rankin and Bass TV shows.
07:08 The use of Santa Claus in advertisements, particularly by Coca-Cola starting in the 1930s, solidified his popularity and associated the colors red and white with him, while the rise of department store Santas and the addition of elves to the Santa story also occurred in the 20th century.
08:54 In the 20th century, the addition of Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer to the Santa Claus story became popular through a short story, a poem, and a song, and is one of the only elements of the Santa Claus story that is copyrighted and trademarked.
10:34 The character of Santa Claus has been depicted in countless different ways in various forms of media, as there is no intellectual property associated with him, allowing for both positive and negative portrayals.
Categories: History Education

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