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Checking the past to learn who is Santa Claus

In the third century, a monk named Nicholas lived near what is now Turkey. He gave away money and food so others could live, and he became the saint of children and sailors.

His legend and honor traveled all over the known world, but Holland embraced him the most.

The Dutch name for St. Nicholas was a shortened version known as Sinter Klass, a natural evolution to Santa Claus.

In the early 1800s, Washington Irving wrote about Sinter Klass, which really set off the Santa explosion.

Santa Claus' image had all sorts of differences over the years.

Our current figure dates from 1881 when artist Thomas Nast used the poem "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement Moore. His artwork showed Santa as a fat, jolly man with a white beard, red suit and a bag of toys. The artist tossed in some elves, the workshop, the North Pole and Mrs. Claus to complete the picture!

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