Thomas Nast and Santa Claus

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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.”

The inspiration for this was his memory of hearing stories about St. Nicholas when he was growing up in his native Germany.  More information here.

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.


  1. Marc Panero · · Reply

    Thank you so much for your posts. They are very much appreciated. May you and yours have a happy and joyous holiday season.

    1. Thanks for your kind words.

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