The first use of the modern image of Santa Claus was by Thomas Nast in the winter of 1862-1863. The first image of Santa Claus showed him distributing gifts to Union soldiers. The modern Santa is a Union man, because his creator, Nast, was a diehard Union supporter. “Santa dangles by the neck a comical jumping jack identified in accompanying text as Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president. There was no doubt in Nast’s illustration whose side Santa favors in the war.”
So we can thank the American Civil War, and Thomas Nast, for our modern idea of Santa Claus.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays. Or, as they say in Hawai’i, Mele Kalikimaka.