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Most of us are familiar with Santa Claus, but the character hasn’t stayed the same over the years. Santa has a rich history that goes right back to the fourth century, and over this time, his garments and colors have changed quite a lot. So, how did we get to the red suit-wearing jolly Santa that we know today?
The Legend of Saint Nicholas
We can’t talk about the history of Santa without going back to Turkey in the fourth century. This is where the Bishop of Myra lived, who was also known as Saint Nicholas. Saint Nick, as the story goes, was well-known for his generosity and his kindness.
The Bishop of Myra commonly wore robes that were red and white, although historians dispute whether or not it was the same shade of red that we know today. Back then, it was likely that the Bishop wore a tan color because of the dyes available at the time. Nevertheless, this is where the Santa story all began and where the colors started.
Indeed, Santa’s wardrobe has gone through a few color changes, and there are examples of Victorian era Christmas cards where Santa is wearing blue and green clothing combinations.
A Victorian-Era Santa and Coca-Cola
The image of Santa that we know today was pretty set in stone by the late nineteenth century. In fact, it was a cartoonist called Thomas Nast who made the red and white Santa suit we know so well today very popular. His illustrations for Harper’s Magazine in late nineteenth-century America created the image we know so well today.
There’s also a story that the red and white colors associated with our modern Santa really has do with Coca-Cola’s corporate colors. The real story is that Haddon Sundblom, who helped Coca-Cola with its advertising images, cemented the image of Santa wearing red with white fur trim, but it was based on existing images of Victorian Santa.
The Legend of Santa
The story of Santa and the color of his garments goes back for centuries, but since that time, his image has been helped along by the likes of cartoonists and advertisers. The legend of Santa, or Saint Nick, is an interesting reminder of how huge traditions often have the humblest of beginnings which are added to over time by the unlikeliest of people. We’d go and ask Santa ourselves, but he’s pretty busy at this time of year!