Father Christmas, Santa Claus, St. Nicholas. Whatever you call him, the chimney traveler has inspired myriad renderings, names and associations for centuries.
Is he a historical figure, a saint with a penchant for secret gift-giving, or a rosy-cheeked, chubby, and perpetually jolly man packaged and sold by marketing execs to eager children worldwide? Though Claus’ core spirit of generosity remains unchanged, the appearance of the iconic, non-denominational symbol for the Christmas holiday has shifted greatly over the centuries. Here’s a handful of examples.