Fun Santa Facts
Fun Santa Facts

54 Jolly Santa Claus Facts

Karin Lehnardt
By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published October 9, 2017Updated December 9, 2019
  • St. Nicholas is the world's most popular non-Biblical saint. He has over 2,000 churches dedicated to him in France and Germany, and 400 in England.[9]
  • Artists have portrayed St. Nicholas more times than any other saint except Mary.[9]
  • St. Nicholas is also the patron saint of banking, pawnbroking, scholarship, pirating, butchery, sailing, thievery, haberdashery, orphans, royalty, and New York City.[9]
  • German-born American illustrator Thomas Nast (1840-1902) helped create the modern version of Santa as jolly, chubby, and dressed mainly in red. Coca-Cola further solidified his image in the mainstream media in 1931 when they used him in their advertising.  
  • St. Nicholas (who would later become Santa Claus) became famous when he gave three poor girls their dowries so they wouldn't be sold into prostitution.[9]
  • St. Nicholas Fact
    The Santa Claus narrative is based on an actual bishop from modern-day Turkey, St. Nicholas
  • The figure of Santa Claus is based on St. Nicholas, a real person who lived during the fourth century in Patara, or what is now Turkey.[9]
  • The remains of St. Nicholas, an early precursor to Santa Claus, are in Italy. Looters stole half of his skeleton as well as other relics.[9]
  • During the Reformation, the very Catholic St. Nicholas became merely a sidekick to Jesus. Santa was known as Ru-laus (Rough Nicholas), Aschenklas (Ashy Nicholas), or Pelznickel (Furry Nicholas).[9]
  • The contemporary Santa Claus is mainly the byproduct of commercialization and advertisements that are tied to Coca Cola, the Hollywood movie industry, Walmart sales, shopping mall photo ops, and the Internet.[7]
  • An early version of Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) allegedly resurrected three small children who had been butchered, dismembered, and pickled by a butcher and sold as ham.[9]
  • In the mid 1800s, poet Thomas Nash wrote a poem that famously placed Santa's home in the North Pole, even though the original saint lived in Turkey. Nash most likely chose the North Pole because, at the time, there were several scientific explorations to the North Pole, a region that was seen as a type of fantasy land, mysterious and just out of reach.[7]
  • Believing in Santa Claus cultivates a child's imagination and ability to think of possibilities and potentialities.[21]
  • Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

    - Francis Pharcellus Church

  • In Europe, before the 16th century, gifts were exchanged on December 6th, the feast of St. Nicholas. Later, German protestants began celebrating Christkindl on December 25, a feast day for the Christ child.[9]
  • In the Santa Claus narrative, naughty children most likely receive coal as a matter of convenience. Santa is already wriggling down the chimney, so it's easy for him to pick up coal. Another theory links coal to Charles Dickens's Christmas Carol, in which Scrooge refuses to give Bob Cratchit even one piece of coal.[8]
  • As Europe became Christianized, the figure of Santa Claus appropriated several pagan elements, including the the narrative of the god Odin, who sported a long white beard and rode a massive war horse with eight legs.[9]
  • St. Nicholas was said to have stood up—right after birth—and praised God. He also refused his mother's milk on fast days.[9]
  • Perhaps no other figure represents the clash between the commercial and the sacred as Santa Claus, a figure who at once encourages charity and gift-buying.[2]
  • Yule Goat Fact
    Before Santa, there was a Yule goat
  • Before the modern version of Santa Claus became popular in Scandinavia, Scandinavian countries believed in a magical Yule goat. The goat would wander around to ensure families were preparing for Yule and demand gifts on the side.[9]
  • The first mention of Mrs. Claus was in the 1849 short story A Christmas Legend by James Rees. She was popularized in Katherine Lee Bates's 1889 poem "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride." The term "Goody" is short for "Goodwife," or "Mrs."[2]
  • An early Russian representation of Santa Claus shows him as a stern Orthodox bishop who was "cruel in correcting."[2]
  • In Austria and Britain, beer and sherry are left for Santa Claus.[9]
  • When scientists reconstructed the face of the fourth century St. Nicholas, they discovered that Santa had a badly broken nose, which he received during the persecutions of Christians under the Roman Emperor Diocletian.[10]
  • Clement Moore's famous 1822 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," also known as "The Night Before Christmas," helped popularize Santa as jolly, plump, and the owner of eight reindeer. Moore did not claim ownership of the poem until 20 years after its publication, and its true authorship is debatable.[10]
  • Santa's list of "naughty" and "nice" children has its roots in Belgium and the Netherlands where their version of Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, kept a similar list. The Norse god Odin kept two ravens that would listen at people's chimneys to find out who was good or bad.[9]
  • Santa
    The naughty and nice list that Santa keeps originated from Nordic folk tales

  • The original Santa Claus most likely had olive skin (typical among Greek/Mediterranean people, such as St. Nick), brown eyes, and gray hair.[10]
  • During the Protestant Reformation, the Santa Claus narrative began to include the Devil as Santa's helper.  Scholars speculate this addition can be traced to the near obsession Protestants had with the Devil, hellfire, and damnation.[9]
  • During Joseph Stalin's reign in Russia, he attempted to eradicate Santa Claus and Christmas in favor of a more secular "Winter Festival."[10]
  • In some places of the world, such as Austria, Latin America, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, Santa is on the naughty list. In an effort to protect themselves from what they see as American commercialization, and to protect their own native Christmas traditions, these countries have cultivated strong anti-Santa sentiments.[10]
  • Writer Washington Irving (1783-1859) wrote the first description of Santa Claus in America in his famous 1809 Knickerbocker's History of New York.
  • A convicted sex offender worked as a Santa Claus at a Virginia Petco, sparking outrage and fear. A year earlier he had pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a six-year-old boy.[4]
  • With over 2.1 billion children in the world and an average of 2.5 children per household, Santa must make 842 million stops on Christmas Eve.[16]
  • Norse God Odin Fact
    The Norse god Odin's long beard, cloaked figure, and his penchant for flying his 8-legged war horse through the sky influenced modern manifestations of Santa
  • The Germanic precursor to Santa was the Norse god Odin, who sported a white beard and a blue, hooded cloak. Children would leave food for Odin, and, in return, Odin would leave treats and candies for the kids.[9]
  • Santa Claus must travel 218 million miles on Christmas Eve, which means he must travel 1,280 miles per second to reach everyone.[16]
  • Researchers calculate that if Santa is to reach every child on Christmas Eve, he has only a millisecond to go down each chimney, eat cookies, and distribute presents.[16]
  • Santa's sleigh would weigh over 400,000 tons if it carried enough toys for all the children in the world. To carry that much weight, Santa would need over 360,000 reindeer. 
  • The name Santa Claus is based on the Dutch name Sinterklaas, which is a contracted form of St. Nicholas. In the 17th century, the Dutch brought the name with them to America.[9]
  • Assuming each household in the whole world leaves out two chocolate chip cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, he would eat 374 billion calories, 33,000 tons of sugar, and 151,000 tons of fat in one night. If Santa could run an eight-minute mile, he would have to run for 109 centuries (109,000 years) to burn off all those treats.[19]
  • If Santa needs presents for nearly 2 billion children globally, and if, on average, each child's presents take 31.5 inches (80 cm) of wrapping paper, Santa needs about 1.6 million miles of wrapping paper. That is enough to wrap around the world 60 times.[20]
  • In Mexico and Latin America, in addition to letter writing, children will also put their letters in a helium balloon. The balloon then flies magically to Santa Claus.[12]
  • The most popular cookies left out for Mr. Claus are chocolate chip and "America's #1 Cookie," the Oreo.[19]
  • Santa Cookies
    Leaving cookies and milk has its roots in ancient Norse mythology when children would leave food out the god Odin in the hopes he would stop by and leave gifts in return

  • Of the millions of letters sent to Santa each year, the three countries that send the most are the following: 1) 1.7 million from France, 2) 1.35 million from Canada, and 3) more than a million letters are written in the U.S.[13]
  • All letters addressed to Santa in the United States go to Santa Claus, Indiana.[2]
  • Santa would need to visit 2 billion children on Christmas Eve, but thanks to different time zones and the rotation of the Earth, he would have 32 hours to work with.[20]
  • If all 2 billion children Santa visits left a class of milk (8 oz) for him, Santa would need to drink 4 million gallons of milk every hour, or about 137 million gallons of milk overnight. A human stomach can hold about 2–4 liters of liquid.[18]
  • According to French tradition, Santa Claus has a helper—who also happens to be a cannibal. As punishment for eating children, Father Christmas forced Père Fouettard (aka Father Whipper) to become his assistant and beat naughty children with sticks.[11]
  • The most powerful Mutant ever detected in the Marvel universe is Santa Claus. Cerebro detected him while the X-men were celebrating Christmas.[14]
  • Tió de Nadal
    The log doesn't drop larger presents; the Three Wise Men are believed to bring those (Toniher / Creative Commons)
  • On Christmas Eve in Spain's Catalan region, children hit a Tió de Nadal, or "poop log." They then look under a blanket to discover that the log has "pooped" out a pile of presents and candies. After they collect their treats, they burn the log for warmth.[15]
  • In Colorado, there is a Santa Claus university that teaches people how to become professional Santas. Courses include media training, posing, beard shaping, dressing, and more.[3]
  • Santa Claus is actually an English pronunciation of the Dutch word “Sinterklaas,” which translates back into English as Saint Nicholas.[2]
  • A man who was legally named Santa Claus was elected to a city council in North Pole, Alaska.[6]
  • In Canada, Santa's postal code is H0H 0H0.[17]
  • December 5th is Krampusnacht In Central European folklore, Krampus is a horned "half-goat, half-demon", who, during the Christmas season, punishes children who have misbehaved.[1]
  • The figure of Father Christmas first appeared in 1616 masque written by Ben Johnson. In the festive play, Father Christmas is accompanied by his 10 children, whose names include Wassail, Carol, Misrule, and Minced-Pie.[7]
  • Ultimate Santa Claus Guide INFOGRAPHIC
    Santa Claus Infographic
  • In 2019, Walmart Canada apologized for making available a Christmas sweater with an apparent drug reference. The sweater features an image of Santa Clause behind a table with three lines of white, cocaine-looking powder.[5]

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