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There's so much to love about Christmas — baking Christmas cookies, hanging stockings, singing Christmas carols, watching Christmas movies, buying gifts, and decorating the tree. And then of course there's the jolly old man himself: Santa Claus.
We all know that Santa brings presents to "nice" children around the world every year, that he has eight reindeer, and that he's married to Mrs. Claus. But you (or the kids in your life) may have some questions about jolly old Saint Nick, namely is Santa a real person? Just how old is Santa? And when is his birthday?
For all those enquiring minds that want to know, read on because we've got answers about Santa Claus's age, when his birthday is, how he came to be known as Santa Claus, and where he was born (surprisingly, it's not the North Pole!). So put out some milk and cookies, turn on your favorite Christmas tunes, and get ready to learn some fun facts about Santa.
Exactly how old is Santa?
According to the blog Email Santa, Santa Claus is 1,750 years old as of 2021. In fact, the origins of Santa Claus can be traced all the way back to a monk named Saint Nicholas, who was born between 260 and 280 A.D. in a village called Patara, which is part of modern-day Turkey.
Long before he became Santa Claus, there were many legends around Saint Nicholas performing acts of kindness, like providing monetary assistance to a family so that they wouldn’t have to sell their daughters into slavery. Another legend involves Saint Nicholas praying for sailors who were being threatened by a powerful storm and ensuring their safe return.
Because of these and other fabled deeds, he became known as a protector of children and sailors. People around the world continue to honor him with the Feast of Saint Nicholas on December 6, the anniversary of his death.
When is Santa's birthday?
SantaClaus.com states that Santa’s birthday is on March 15. Mark it on your calendar for next year!
How did we go from Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus?
According to TIME, the legend of Saint Nicholas continued to be passed around throughout Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the Netherlands, St. Nicholas Day was observed by someone dressing up as the saint and going door-to-door giving children either small gifts or coal, depending on how good or bad they had been.
But according to researchers, it’s a bit of a mystery as to how the legend of Saint Nicholas made its way to North America. In the 1770s, one New York newspaper referenced “St. Nicholas, otherwise called Santa Claus,” which is the first known reference to Santa Claus in the United States.
The author of Christmas: A Biography, Judith Flanders, shared with TIME that the large populations of Swiss people who settled in New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania are probably the reason we know Santa Claus by that name today. “They came from regions that marked St. Nicholas’ Day, and St. Nicholas in various dialects of Schweizerdeutsch, or Swiss-German, becomes either Samichlaus or Santi-Chlaus.” And of course, it's easy to see how "Santi-Chlaus" might have evolved into "Santa Claus" over time.
So, how old is Santa's wife, Mrs. Claus?
According to Email Santa, Mrs. Claus is just a bit younger than her husband. She’s 1,139 years old. And don’t forget to wish her a happy birthday after you’ve opened your gifts this year: Her birthday is on Christmas Day, according to the website.
Now that you've learned some fun facts about Santa Claus, it's time to start thinking about making plans to visit him this year. If you're avoiding malls as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, you may want to consider setting up a virtual Santa visit for the kids this year. And come Christmas Eve, your family can even track Santa on his journey across the world — the kids are sure to love it!
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