Tomorrow is Christmas. The largest religious festival of Christians is celebrated around the world every year with a lot of preparations that include Christmas tree decorations, lighting and shopping for gifts and food. And one of the prime attractions of Christmas is Santa Claus.

There is a legend that Santa Claus goes from house to house on Christmas Eve filling large stockings of children with gifts.

But how this legend was born and from where Santa Claus came are unknown to many of us. The history of this man with red clothes, a red cap and white beard can be traced back to the 3rd century. The legend of Santa Claus started with a monk named Saint Nicholas.

It is believed that Saint Nicholas was born around 280 AD in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. Everyone liked him for his honesty and kindness.

It is said that once he saved three daughters from being sold as slaves and paid all expenses for their marriage.

News of Saint Nicholas's generosity spread around, and he became known as the protector of the people. The day of his death, December 6, was celebrated by everyone as the day of marriage or shopping.

Saint Nicholas was introduced to America in the late 18th century. A newspaper reported about a Dutch family celebrating the death anniversary of Saint Nicholas.

In Dutch language, Saint Nicholas was called Sinter Class (short for Saint Nicholas). The name Santa Claus originated from these words.

The custom of giving gifts to everyone, especially children, at Christmas began in the early 19th century. From the 1820's onwards, shops advertised for Christmas, with special issues appearing in magazines often featuring pictures of Santa Claus.

In 1841 a man shaped like Santa Claus was made in a Philadelphia store that drew thousands of children. From then on, live Santa Clauses are arranged in shops to attract children and their parents.

In 1822, Clement Clark Moore wrote a Christmas poem entitled "An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas". The form of Santa Claus we see today actually began with this poem. A white-bearded saint dressed in red is flying in a deer-drawn carriage and going from house to house distributing gifts to children – such an image emerged in his poem.

Thomas Nast Standard published a picture of a cartoonist.

It shown Santa Claus riding a deer-drawn carriage, carrying a gift bag on his shoulder and going from house to house giving gifts to children. In this way, the custom of filling children's socks with gifts on the Christmas Eve became popular all over the world.

Although Santa Claus is actually a myth, the children believe that Santa really does exist and that he brings gifts the night before Christmas.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 24, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.