The Changing Face Of Santa Claus

Published December 20, 2013
Updated December 5, 2017

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.

Santa Claus 1294 Russia
Santa Claus 1686 Father Christmas
Santa Claus 1810 Alexander Anderson
Santa Claus 1902 Puck
The Changing Face Of Santa Claus
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Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.