Archiver > QUEBEC-RESEARCH > 2004-11 > 1100004750

Subject: Excerpt Of History
Date: Tue, 9 Nov 2004 07:52:30 EST

" The Dutch have a tradition that St. Nicholas, the patron saint of
children, comes down from the North Pole every year on Dec 6, his birthday, to pass
out toys, candy, and gifts to all the children who have been good the previous
year. He travels with lightning speed on a sleigh pulled by a white horse
that belongs to Odin, the chief of the Scandinavian gods. Although the Dutch
children now hang up their stockings just as the children of other countries
have done for hundreds of years, they originally placed their wooden shoes,
filled with grain or straw for Odin's horse, in a neat row by the chimney. When
those who had been good all year awoke in the morning, they would discover
that St. Nicholas had replaced their grain with gifts. Those who had been bad
during the year would find that he had passed by their shoes without taking
the grain or leaving any gifts.
When the Dutch settled New Amsterdam (New York) in the early 17th century,
they brought the tradition of St. Nicholas with them. In time, their neighbours
in New England adopted St. Nicholas, but they changed his name to Santa
Claus, covered his face with a full white beard, and had him pass out his gifts
on Christmas Eve instead of St. Nicholas Eve. Although he also makes his home
in the North Pole, his sleigh is pulled by eight reindeer instead of a horse.
They fly through the air with the speed of light, landing on the roofs of
all the houses he is going to visit. He enters them by sliding down the
chimney, and fills the stockings of good children with an assortment of gifts, and
those of bad children with lumps of coal. In spite of the way in which he
enters each house, Santa's clothes never become dirty."

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