For huge chunks of history, the mentally ill were treated
Christmas is just a few short days away! Santa is readying his sleigh, making sure that everything is in tip-top shape for his December 24 flight. Rudolph is shining up his nose, and somewhere, nine ladies and ten lords are dancing to the music of eleven piper’s piping. Sure, we know a lot about the jolly old elf, his reindeer companions and all of those delicious cookies that are left out for him. But did you know these 13 obscure facts about the big guy himself?
1. Santa Was Based On A Real Person
The right jolly old elf that we know and love today is actually based upon a real person. Bishop Saint Nicholas of Smyrna was a bishop in the fourth century. He was born in what we know today as Turkey. Traditionally, he wore robes of red and white, which eventually became the iconic “Santa suit” of today. St. Nicholas is the patron saint of pawnbroking, banking, thievery, pirating, butchery, orphans, royalty and New York. He is the world’s most popular non-biblical saint.
2. Also Known As…
Santa Claus is a man of many names. Here in the U.S., he is often referred to as St. Nick or Kris Kringle. But in England, he is called Father Christmas, in Switzerland, Christkindli, Pere Noel in France, Babbo Natale in Italy and finally, Weihnachtsmann in Germany.
3. All The Single Santas
Mrs. Clause didn’t make an appearance until 1849, when the short story A Christmas Legend by James Rees was published. She went on to make appearances in other publications such as Harper’s Magazine and Yale Literary Magazine. However, it was not until the circulation of a poem by Katherine Lee Bates all about Santa’s leading lady. After that, the idea spread far and wide and found it’s way into many other Christmas tales.
4. He Has His Own Zip Code
You read that right. Santa Claus’ workshop up in the North Pole is so very vast that it takes up an entire zip code. Since 1982, the Canada Post has been accepting mail to old Saint Nick, as long as it bears the distinct zip code H0H 0H0. Letters received are always replied to by post employees.
5. He Has His Own Degree Program
If you’re having trouble deciding on a major, you could always get Santa Claus degree. There are a variety of schools around the world that train their students on how to behave, answer questions, and even how to look like Santa. The oldest school is the Charles W. Howard Santa School in Midland, Michigan. It has been dubbed “The Harvard of Santa Schools,” by Bill Geist, anchor of CBS Sunday Morning News.
6. He Has A Refined Palate
According to the area of the world that he visits, Santa’s offerings left out on Christmas Eve range from the traditional cookies and milk, to mince pie in the United Kingdom. When it comes to beverages, in Australia, milk is often swapped out with beer, and in Ireland, families leave Santa a glass of their ever-famous Guinness.
7. He Didn’t Always Shimmy Up The Chimney
In 1841, a merchant by the name of J.W. Parkinson hired a man off the street to dress up as Santa Claus and climb the chimney of his department store. However, people were so enamored with this that once word got around, illustrations and stories formed the myth as we know it today.