Sundblom-drawing from  1941

The American "Santa" is descending from a Dutch tradition which was later transferred to USA. The big, laughing Santa with a huge, white beard and black boots was originally drawn by a Swede, H. Sundblom for the Coca Cola Company in 1931. He based his Santa-figure on an old Dutch story ; "A visit by Saint Nicholas." 



St. Nicholas was a bishop who lived and worked in Asia Minor. He was born in 271 AD and died in the year 343 AD. He was a bishop of the Greek Orthodox church who lived in Myra in Turkey. According to the legend he saved his town from starvation. He also revived three dead children, and he offered dowries to very poor girls.

It's told that he once threw a small bag containing gold coins through a window on a Christmas evening. The family was very poor and had 3 daughters. One of them had hung her stockings for drying by the fireplace. The little bag landed in one of the stockings. And THAT is the story behind the belief that Santa comes through the chimney with gifts on Christmas Eve.

Three sailors swore that he had calmed a very rough sea when they were in very bad trouble because of extremely bad weather conditions. So the sailors were the first to praise him as a saint along with children, bakers, prisoners and merchants.

St. Nicholas wore a red bishop hat and a long, red cape. He also has a long, metal bishop staff - and as these days of course is very old (1737 years in 2008) - he's got a white flowing beard.

In the Netherlands they still celebraite "Sinterklaas" on Dec. 5th !


  The Norwegian "Nisse" and Trolls have been part of Norwegian traditions in hundreds of years. Nissen was a tiny fellow who lived in the barn and cared for the herd. If treated nicely, he took good care of horses and cattle. He was dressed in a knitted sweather, knee-long trousers, wooden shoes or boots - and, of course the knitted red cap. ; "Nisselua". (during World War 2 this kind of red "Nisse-cap" became such a symbol of Norwegian patriotisme, that it was prohibited to use them !)

It was very important to place a bowl of Christmas porridge in the barn. If forgotten, the Nisse could make a lot of trouble for the farmer the following year. But the old Norwegian Nisse didn't bring any gifts. Until the early years of last century he was the only "Nisse" known to Norwegians. But, influence from abroad has hit the local "Santa"  If you ever should find yourself outdoors in Norway on Christmas Eve, you'll probably run into a lot of Santa/Nisse mixtures..............