Santa Claus is said to have originated from Saint Nicholas. We find in his representation all the symbolism of St. Nicholas (white beard, red coat ...).
Santa Claus travels in a sleigh pulled by reindeer, St. Nicholas traveled on the back of a donkey. In spite of the Protestant reform of the 16th century which suppressed the feast of St. Nicholas in European countries, the Dutch kept their Sinter Klaas (Dutch name for St. Nicholas) and its distribution of toys.
When they moved to the United States, Sinter Klass became Santa Claus. Santa Claus underwent clothing and cultural transformations to become a more friendly Santa Claus.
Clement Clarke MOORE wrote a Christmas story for his children in 1821 called "The night before Christmas" in which Santa Claus appears in his reindeer-drawn sleigh. The same author wrote a text entitled "A Visit From St. Nicholas" which appeared in the New York newspaper "Sentinel" on December 23, 1823. This text was about elves distributing gifts to children through the chimney and hurrying away in a cart pulled by 8 reindeer (named Blitzen, Dasher, Dancer, Comet, Cupid, Donder, Prancer and Vixen). A ninth reindeer was added in 1939: Rudolf, who was in charge of lighting Santa Claus' path with his "luminous red nose". The story was translated into several languages and distributed worldwide.
In 1863 "Harper's Illustrated weekly", the New York newspaper, dreamed Santa Claus of a costume trimmed with white fur and wearing a wide leather belt. The cartoonist Thomas NAST was the author.
For almost 30 years, Thomas NAST depicted Santa Claus in the newspaper as plump and jovial, with a white beard and reindeer. by Thomas Nast
It is in 1885 that the illustrator of this newspaper drew the route of the Santa Claus which goes from the North Pole to the United States; his residence was thus officially established.
One year later, the writer Georges P. Webster stated that the toy factory and Santa Claus' house "were hidden in the ice and snow of the North Pole", confirming NAST's drawings with this statement.