Santa Claus thru History

Rick Helwig portrays Santa in the First Santa Suit
made popular  by Thomas Nast in Harpers' Weekly

Father Christmas and St. Nicholas had been the major characters used with the Christmas season.  In 1823 a poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas which was to become a favorite holiday recitation was published anonymously by Clement Clarke Moore.  Years later he admitted he had written the poem which added much to the character of Santa Claus.   

When the Civil War took soldiers away from their homes and families, the story was a reminder of happier times.  Cartoonist Thomas Nast gave Santa Claus a face and persona for soldiers and readers alike.

Before photography, newspapers depended on the artistic talents of  their artist and engravers to show the news to the readers.

Thomas Nast was a political cartoonist for Harper's Weekly, a New York Newspaper. 

This full page cartoon ran on the front page, January 3, 1862.  It depicts Santa visiting the soldiers during the holiday cease fire. 

Nast's Christmas cartoon was so popular, it became an annual event at Harper's


1862 1863 1864 1865 1881
Santa changed through the years of the war.  In 1864 Benjamin Hanby wrote the song Up on a Housetop  in the town of New Paris, Ohio.  This further developed the character.  In a much later Harper's Weekly, Nast's Santa shows Moore's influence.

Rich Helwig has spent time researching Nast's cartoons and will share this era with us in the Myers Inn Meeting Room at 7:30 Tuesday evening, November 11th.

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