Friday’s with Manny


Who Was Santa Claus?

When I was growing up in Riga, Latvia, we celebrated the New Year by decorating a Yolka, a fir tree. We also had the white bearded Grandpa Frost, dressed in a Red Coat, who delivered gifts to children.

When we came to San Francisco in 1980, we discovered that a Yolka is called a Christmas tree, and Grandpa Frost is Santa Claus. There are a lot of interesting traditions connected with both. Though fir trees were used to celebrate pagan winter festivals, one of the first documented use of a tree at Christmas and New Year’s Celebrations was in Riga, Latvia in 1510. In the third century in Turkey, Santa Claus was known as Nicholas, who used his inherited wealth to help children. Later on, he became known as St. Nicholas. When Dutch settlers came to New York, they brought with them the tradition to celebrate the anniversary of Nicholas’ death. They nicknamed him Sinter Klaas, which eventually became known as Santa Claus. The custom of gift giving passed on down from St. Nicholas’ generosity, only to be picked up in the beginning of the nineteenth century by stores advertising shopping for Christmas. As we know, this tradition continues today. 

The three images of Santa Claus are my gift to you. If you are looking for a special gift to give to others – give love. One of the forms can appear in my new poetry-photo book “42 Encounters with Love”.

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy and Share!