Friday, December 24, 2010
Fairy tales, according to Wikipedia, typically feature folkloric creatures such as elves. Not only that but in many versions of the story, Santa has flying reindeer and he's able to traverse the entire world in only one night. Furthermore, Santa appears to be immortal and can survive living in a climate where no other human being can survive.
As with many fairy tales, the story of Santa Claus has origins in many different countries and regions and is referred to by different names depending on the country of origin. There are many similarities between Santa Claus and the early Germanic people's god, Odin. Odin was also said to fly through the sky at Yule and children began filling their boots with goodies for Odin.
The dark aspect of early fairy tales is absent from the story of Santa Claus, however. Santa is said to bring gifts to children and only naughty children are punished according to most versions of the Santa Claus story. In Alpine regions there are Krampus, said to be the companions of Saint Nicholas, who are even today represented as characters who frighten people with rusty chains and bells.
Perhaps the most telling difference between the story of Santa Claus and fairy tales is that fairy tales generally don't reference religion or actual people or places. Despite the differing stories of Santa's origin, nearly all find their roots in religion and are based on an actual person. Saint Nicholas of Myra, a 4th century Greek bishop, is the basis of Christianity's Sinterklaas. Saint Nicholas was known for his generosity to the poor.
Fairy tale or not, I love to read the stories of Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle or Pere Noel.