i'm not exactly sure how the birth of christ got all mixed up with a greek saint [although he'd be turkish now], a pre-christian figure associated with yuletide, or the winter solstice, and some kind of toy workshop at the north pole. i mean, clearly the early christians took some poetic license that allowed european pagans to slip into a new religion almost without noticing and you can trace lines from the legends of saint nichloas the fourth century gift-giving bishop of myra to odin, bearded king of the norse and teutonic gods, to the renaissance era "father christmas", who brought gifts to children in december. time and the fluid nature of folklore mean that it's not a clear line, simply a gradual procession, picking up bits and pieces from various cultural norms over the centuries. [side note :: st. nicholas was actually kind of bad ass, as ancient saints often were. one of the miracles attributed to him is that while visiting a town struck by a terrible famine, he resurrected three children who had been captured and killed by a particularly evil butcher who stuck them in barrels to cure, planning on selling them as ham. no one mentions what the children were like once he'd brought them back, but raising the dead does tend to increase you profile. the church clearly concurred on his bad-assery, because when he was given a saintly portfolio, he became patron of children and sailors, but also of thieves and murderers. so don't fuck with jolly old saint nick, kids. also, make sure you go to a reputable butcher.]
|hippie boho wizard santa|
|kinda scaring the shit out of us here santa|
|jolly old saint nick|
the modern history of santa is, of course, better known: his career in advertising; his various doppelgangers who listen to children expound on what their greedy little hearts desire; his conflicts with devout christians who believe that he distracts from the true meaning of the season. [hey, maybe trying to stamp out every other religion in the world while also appropriating much of their lore and iconography to make your own look more palatable was a particularly schizoid dick move.] so remember when you're telling your young ones that santa does or doesn't exist that you're actually speaking of a multiplicity of characters who may or may not have existed in different forms for widely different groups of people. and if going through all that doesn't bore the kids to sleep, maybe you should just tell them about santa's history with the wild hunt.