Every year on Christmas Eve, millions of children around the world go to bed with the expectation of waking up to a house full of presents on Christmas morning. The bearer of gifts? A portly, white-bearded old man in a red suit with a cheery disposition and a herd of magical flying reindeer.
Santa Claus. Father Christmas. Kris Kringle. Jolly Ole' Saint Nick. He's a legendary figure with many names in many cultures, and the star of many a Christmas story.
The figure of Santa Claus, as we know him today, is a pure blend of history and lore. His origins can be traced in part to a real-life, 4th century Greek Bishop St Nicholas of Myra, who was known for giving gifts to the poor.
Santa's story is also a blend of British, Dutch, Belgian and German folklore about a gift-giving (or in some cases, gift-withholding) spirit that came out around Christmastime. Those tales reflect a mix of religious and pagan traditions.
Master Storyteller Jonathan Kruk joins us again on this episode with another story: How a dour old bishop became a jolly old elf.