ome say Santa was invented by Coca-Cola. Some say Mr Claus owes his fame to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I say he is a complex combination of historical and folkloric figures. In the end, though, there’s only one thing that matters: the unique spirit he represents.
Santa Claus didn’t become a gift-bearing, reindeer-riding, ho ho ho-ing phenomenon overnight. Already in the fourth century, a Greek bishop named Saint Nicholas of Myra was famous for his generous gifts to the poor. In centuries to follow, he came to be the patron saint of archers and sailors, children and pawnbrokers, Moscow and Amsterdam.
In the Netherlands, where I reside and produce my Sir Edmond Gin with pride, the bearded bishop is called ‘Sinterklaas’, hails from Spain instead of Greece, and hands out presents on December 5th instead of on Christmas eve. In the 19th century, the figure of Saint Nicholas magically merged with his English counterpart Father Christmas, an equally jolly and bearded fellow, to create the Santa Claus we know today.
And what an unusual character he is, right? Rumour has it that Santa likes to spend the off-season in tropical surroundings. Sipping gin and juice under the palm trees, wearing nothing but swim shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Enjoying the good life, like he always does. Celebrating health and happiness, encouraging the joy of sharing memories and chasing dreams. Because that, my dearly beloved flock, is the true spirit of Christmas. That is the true story of Santa Claus.