The Santa Claus the world knows—the “Coca Cola” Santa Claus decked out in red and white—is synonymous with Christmas, flying red-nosed reindeer, a big jolly laugh, and lots and lots of presents. Tales of old Saint Nick have spread across the planet and worked their way into numerous cultures. But do you know how the story of the fat man in the red suit first got started?

The legend of Santa Claus actually evolved over time. Saint Nicholas of Myra is the real man upon whom the modern-day Santa Claus is based. While history is somewhat murky about the details of Nicholas of Myra’s life, we’re pretty certain he lived in Myra (hence his name), which is now located in Turkey, and helped lots of folks in need. One story tells how Bishop Nicholas threw sacks of gold into the window of a poor man who did not have funds for his daughters' dowries. This good deed apparently saved the girls from having to work in brothels, thus saving the family's honor. From that act of kindness, the folk tale of Saint Nick as a man who bestows presents on the deserving got started.

From the very real history of Saint Nicholas, Santa Claus was born. Over the years, his named has changed and the delightful elements of sleigh rides through the skies and dropping down people’s chimneys were added on by various cultures. It seems just about every society celebrating Christmas wanted to contribute a little something to the story of the man known as Santa Claus.

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