Santa was invented by Coca-Cola to market soda during the holidays. No, they didn’t. They weren’t even the first soda company to whore out Santa’s image. That honor goes to a company called White Rock, who almost ten years before coke, peddled mineral water and ginger ale with Santa’s likeness.
Santa Claus as we know him is like one of your ninja turtle toys you took apart as a kid and swapped body parts out with other toys.
First, we need to travel to ancient Midgard, where Odin, The All Father, rules over the gods. Odin was an old dude with a white beard who rode across the sky on his eight-legged horse Sleipnir. He had two black ravens, Huginn and Muninn, who would perch by people’s chimney’s and listen to whether or not they were being good. Back then it was more like a hole in the roof to let the smoke out than an actual chimney, but that makes the origin of coming down the chimney a bit more plausible. Odin presided over Yule-time festivities in the winter. One of Odin’s giant ass list of names and titles is jólfaðr (Yule Father). He also had a bunch of dwarves that would make things for him, like his spear Draupnir and Thor’s hammer Mjollnir. Most of the time Odin had better things to do than handing out presents, but he would happily leave you a treat if you put some straw in your shoe and left it out for his horse. Over time the eight-legged horse got replaced by eight reindeer. Donner and Blixen were originally named Dunder and Blixem, which meant thunder and lightning.
Saint Nicholas was a Greek born bishop who moved to Turkey and set up shop in Myrna. According to legend he was born from rich parents but gave away all his shit to the poor, because that’s what the bible says you’re supposed to do. Then he walked the Earth like that dude from Kung Fu, doing good deeds and shit. One of his most famous exploits was when he met a guy who got financially wrecked by the Devil and couldn’t afford a dowry for his three daughters so they were gonna have to resort to prostituting out their vaginas to make ends meet. Saint Nicholas knew the dude was too proud to accept money to keep his daughters from becoming whores so Nick tossed some bags of gold through the guy's window while he was sleeping. Now the old man could afford to pay someone to marry his daughters. So instead of the girls getting paid for sex, their new husbands got paid instead.
One of the “miracles” Saint Nick performed to gain sainthood was bringing three boys back from the dead who were in the process of being pickled after getting murdered by an innkeeper named Pere Fouettard. Because of this nice deed Saint Nicholas became the patron saint of children, who other than being saved from pickling, he showered with treats and gifts. He was also the patron saint of archery, sailing, pawn brokers, and some other shit. In France and Belgium, Pere Fouettard entered into Saint Nick’s servitude as a form of penance, and traveled with him, handing out lumps of coal and ass-whoopins to bad children on Christmas.
In 1930’s America had a similar sidekick named Father Flog. He and his wife Mother Flog handed out beatings to disobedient children on Christmas. Next year I am buying a Father Flog costume instead of dressing up as Santa and getting stuck in the chimney again.
In Northern Italy and Eastern Europe, bad kids could expect a visit from Krampus, a half demon, half goat, who beat children with sticks and carried a bag to put them in and take to hell. He also carried a chain with bells on it. So next time you hear that ring-jing-jingling on the roof, grab a shotgun.
Folk in Holland were particularly fond of Saint Nicholas. In Dutch his name is Sinter Klaas. Saint Klaas also had a helper named Zwart Piet (Black Pete). Black Pete was a Spanish Moore who hung out with Klaas, handing out candy and ass whoopins as they deemed appropriate. He would also steal bad children and take them back to Spain where they would be sold into slavery. To commemorate Black Pete people in Holland dress up in blackface on Christmas and act foolish. In recent years some people have taken offence to this. The Dutch people’s general response to criticism about Black Pete has been, “I don’t give a fuck. Black Pete rulz!”
Then we get to 1645 when those goddamn puritanical bastards in the English Parliament banned Christmas because it was too much fun. One of the big sticking points with the Puritans was, you shouldn’t worship saints because they ain’t God. Saint Nicholas Day was shut down faster than a hunchback at a supermodel orgy.
Political cartoonists immediately started taking shots at parliament using cartoons of a fat man in a robe (who was understood to be the embodiment of all the fun they used to have on Christmas) talking shit to parliament about why they were a bunch of boring old bitches. The cartoon characters’ name was Father Christmas; who cared more about getting fucked up than giving a shit abut children. Father Christmas was often portrayed carrying around a giant Yule log on his back, just in case he needed to get the party started. That makes Father Christmas one of the earliest memes.
In 1822 an Episcopal minister in New York named Clement Clark Moore wrote a Christmas poem for his daughters titled “An account of a visit from Saint Nicholas.” People asked him to publish it but he was hesitant because it was corny as fuck. Everyone disagreed and it was an instant classic. Although the name did suck, and was later changed to “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” That’s where most of the modern mythos around Santa comes from.
In 1881 a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly used the poem as inspiration for his Christmas Cartoons. That’s where we get most of the imagery we now associate with Santa.
Dutch immigrants brought Sinter Klaas to the Americas, who then took Santa Clause to England, who had sex with Father Christmas, and now we have a jolly fat man in a red suit and gross commercialism.