Santa Claus is a persistent symbol of the holiday season, and it’s difficult to think of a time without his jolly visage spreading Christmas cheer and the spirit of giving. However, he wasn’t always the happy fat man we know today.
Santa likely started out as St. Nicholas, or “Sinterklaas,” who was known to give secret gifts to children, often in shoes. He became shrouded in myth by the Dutch, who imagined him riding a horse over rooftops and keeping track of bad and good children. The English folklore idea of Father Christmas played a role as well.
A satirical fiction piece created the reindeer component and happy vibe, and Clement Moore took it further with his famous 1822 poem. Artists over the years changed his look until the early 1900s when the red suit became iconic.
Check out this link for more on the fascinating history of this beloved symbol of the season: A Pictorial History of Santa Claus