St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who provided for the poor and sick, and is the basis for the popular character of Santa Claus.
Born in Patara, a land that is part of present-day Turkey, circa 280, St. Nicholas was a Christian bishop who helped the needy. After his death, the legend of his gift-giving grew. St. Nicholas transformed into the legendary character called Santa Claus, who brings Christmas presents to children around the world.
St. Nicholas was born sometime circa 280 in Patara, Lycia, an area that is part of present-day Turkey. He lost both of his parents as a young man and reportedly used his inheritance to help the poor and sick. A devout Christian, he later served as bishop of Myra, a city that is now called Demre.
There are many legends about St. Nicholas of Myra. One story tells how he helped three poor sisters. Their father did not have enough money to pay their dowries and thought of selling them into servitude. Three times, St. Nicholas secretly went to their house at night and put a bag of money inside. The man used the money so that one of his daughters could marry. On the third visit, the man saw St. Nicholas and thanked him for his kindness. He also reportedly saved three men who were falsely imprisoned and sentenced to death.
Death and Legacy
Several sources state St. Nicholas is believed to have died on December 6, 343. Over the years, stories of his miracles and work for the poor spread to other parts of the world. He became known as the protector of children and sailors and was associated with gift-giving. He was a popular saint in Europe until the time of the Reformation in the 1500s, a religious movement that led to the creation of Protestantism, which turned away from the practice of honoring saints. St. Nicholas, however, remained an important figure in Holland.
The Dutch continued to celebrate the feast day of St. Nicholas, December 6. It was a common practice for children to put out their shoes the night before. In the morning, they would discover the gifts that St. Nicholas had left there for them.So how did this Dutch tradition become the Santa Claus that we know and love today? Check back tomorrow as we explore the history of Santa Claus.Source: St. Nicholas – Saint – Biography.com
“Frosty the Snowman” (or “Frosty the Snow Man“) is a popular Christmas song written by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson, and first recorded by Gene Autry and the Cass County Boys in 1950. It was written after the success of Autry’s recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” the previous year; Rollins and Nelson shipped the new song to Autry, who recorded “Frosty” in search of another seasonal hit.
Like “Rudolph”, “Frosty” was subsequently adapted to other media including a popular television special by Rankin/Bass Productions (formerly known as Videocraft International), Frosty the Snowman. The ancillary rights to the Frosty the Snowman character are owned by Warner Bros.,but due to the prominence of the TV special, merchandising of the character is generally licensed in tandem with that special’s current owners, DreamWorks Classics.
Balsam wreaths and visions of sugarplums had barely faded in the first weeks of 1939, but thoughts inside the Chicago headquarters of retail giant Montgomery Ward had already turned to the next Christmas 11 months away. The retailer had traditionally purchased and distributed coloring books to children as a holiday promotion, but the advertising department decided it would be cheaper and more effective instead to develop its own Christmas-themed book in-house.
The assignment fell to Robert May, a copywriter with a knack for turning a limerick at the company’s holiday party. The adman, however, had difficulty summoning up holiday cheer, and not just because of the date on the calendar. Not only was the United States still trying to shake the decade-long Great Depression while the rumblings of war grew once again Europe, but May’s wife was suffering with cancer and the medical bills had thrown the family into debt. Sure, he was pursuing his passion to write, but churning out mail order catalog copy about men’s shirts instead of penning the Great American Novel was not what he had envisioned himself doing at age 33 with a degree from Dartmouth College.
Given the assignment to develop an animal story, May thought a reindeer was a natural for the leading role (not to mention that his 4-year-old daughter, Barbara, loved the reindeer every time she visited the zoo). As he peered out at the thick fog that had drifted off Lake Michigan, May came up with the idea of a misfit reindeer ostracized because of his luminescent nose who used his physical abnormality to guide Santa’s sleigh and save Christmas. Seeking an alliterative name, May scribbled possibilities on a scrap of paper—Rollo, Reginald, Rodney and Romeo were among the choices—before circling his favorite. Rudolph.
As May worked on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” through the summer, his wife’s health worsened. She passed away in July 1939. Now a widower and a single father, May refused the offer of his boss to give the assignment to someone else. “I needed Rudolph now more than ever,” he later wrote. Burying his grief, May finished the story in August.
The 89 rhyming couplets in “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” borrow from Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” right from the story’s opening line: “Twas the day before Christmas, and all through the hills/The reindeer were playing…enjoying the spills.” Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Ugly Duckling” also inspired the storyline as did May’s own childhood when he endured taunts from schoolmates for being small and shy. “Rudolph and I were something alike,” the copywriter told Guideposts magazine in January 1975. “As a child I’d always been the smallest in the class. Frail, poorly coordinated, I was never asked to join the school teams.”
In 1949, songwriter Johnny Marks, who happened to be May’s brother-in-law, set Rudolph’s story to music. After Bing Crosby reportedly turned down the chance, singing cowboy Gene Autry recorded the song, which sold 2 million copies in the first year and remains one of the best-selling tunes of all time.