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An artist created the modern day Santa Claus

Posted on December 24, 2018 at 2:01 PM by Betsy Grabinski

Did you ever wonder how Santa got his signature red suit with white fur trim and wide black belt? This can be traced back to Harper's Weekly illustrator Thomas Nast (German-American, 1840-1902). Although originally known for his drawings about war and politics, Nast's Christmas drawings became popular with Harper's readers as many of them depicted images of his own children in settings of his hometown in Morris, New Jersey.


Nast's art created iconic images of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus which are still seen today, including a toy workshop, his home at the North Pole and yes, the signature red suit. The suit specifically came from Christmas traditions of his native land Germany, by combining the image of St. Nicholas, a fourth-century bishop, with German folk tales of elves to produce his 1862 version Santa: a rotund, little man with beard and mustache.


The two images here are prints and are exhibited seasonally at the Farm House Museum. They were acquired in memory of Joan Kluge from her family and friends.

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