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The History of Santa Claus

Spectr News Theme Isny Dewi R.
21, December 2018

Any kid can tell you where Santa Claus is from, the North Pole. But do you know that his historical journey is even longer and more fantastic than his annual, one-night circumnavigation of the globe?

Ahead to the Christmas celebration like today, a man with red costume complete with their long white beards are more often seen on television and shopping centers. Usually, he comes with a bag full of gifts and distribute it to the children around the world. So what is the origin of the story of Santa Claus or Sinterklas in Inonesia that comes every Christmas eve?

Rodenberg and Wagenaar on “Essentializing ‘Black Pete’: competing narratives surrounding the Sinterklaas tradition in the Netherlands” published in International Journal of Heritage Studies, mentions that Santa was inspired by Saint Nicolas, a bishop from Myra who lived around the 3rd century.

Nicolas, who has a generous attitude and loves to share with poor people, then inspires the 'birth' of Santa's story in the Netherlands. Because of that too, Santa is described as a bishop, complete with diocesan robes, bishop hat called mitre, dan and the bishop shepherd's rod that coiled at the top.

Dutch believe that Santa is from Spain. He has long hair and a white beard. On every Christmas eve, Santa always roams from one house to another. Not to forget, wherever he goes, Zwarte Piet or Black Piet, always follows him. Piet is in charge of helping Santa distribute gifts for children on December 5.

In Indonesia, Sinterklas's mention is more often used than Santa Claus. Aside it is easier to pronounce, the name Sinterklas is also one of the Dutch legacies. During the colonial period, Dutch in Indonesia often celebrate Santa's Day every December 5.

Even, Sinterklas who came to Batavia was welcomed by local officials and paraded around the city so all people could see him. The tradition lasted until 1957 before President Soekarno banned it due to RI- Netherlands relations which were heating up because of the issue of West Irian. The policy is then known as "Sinterklas Hitam" or “Black Sinterklas”. As for the Netherlands, the Santa Claus tradition still survives today.

Isny Dewi R.
Isny Dewi R.
Journalist
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