Sinter Klass 1766

Sinter Klass (P. Servaas, 1766). This 1766 woodcut created by P. Servaas appears to be the earliest depiction of Sinterklaas riding a

Sint Nikolaas 1760

The garments on this illustration of “Sint Nikolaas” by Dutch artist R. Koene in 1760

Sinter Klaas 1750

This illustration, produced the same year as Sint Nicolaas, Goet Heylig Man, is titled Sinter Klaas because of the Dutch ban on celebration of St. Nicholas’ Day, a Catholic holiday, following the Protestant Reformation.

Saint Lucia

St. Lucia was a Christian martyr who died in prison in 304 A.D., and whose feast day, December 13, made her a convenient saint to preside over Christmas festivities in Sweden, Denmark and Italy where Lucia is typically represented by a young woman in a long white dress and a wreath of candles. Before her martyrdom, she reputedly gouged out her own eyes to forestall the advances of a pagan suitor after she converted to Christianity. She is frequently depicted with her eye balls on a platter even though her real eyes are intact.

Saint Martin of Tours

Martin of Tours was the third bishop of Tours, France, and became one of the most popular Christian figures in France. Prior to the emergence of Nicholas of Myra as the predominate midwinter gift-giver, Martin served in a similar role on his feast day, November 11, and both were likely selected more for their feast date in relation to a region’s midwinter celebration than any religious consideration. He lives on primarily as Pelzmartin, “Martin in furs”, or similar names or appearances adopted after the Reformation made saints unwelcome in Protestant regions.

Saint Nicholas

These two illustrations are significant because they show St. Nicholas as a saint, not the more common depiction of a gift-giver.  The first is a religious icon of the type  commonly used for saints in Christian churches during used in the Middle Ages.  The second is a broadside distributed by John Pintard, a leader of the New-York Historical Society, for the group’s annual meeting on December 6, 1810.  Pintard commissioned the woodcut from artist Alexander Anderson


Silenus, Greek God of Wine, on Chariot with Leopards. The Greek god Silenus was tutor to Dionysus, the Greek god of agriculture and wine, and one of the Greek counterparts to the Roman god Saturn. Silenus, known for white beard, round stomach, and jolly nature, traveled in a sleigh


Santa Claus Worldwide distills the cheerful essence of Christmas from many sources and studies, old and new. In addition to his wide reading, author Tom A. Jerman has brought a wealth of personal experience