Victorian Kriss KringleThe history of today's view of Santa Claus started with the Dutch legend of Sinter Klaas. In 1809, Washington Irving, under the pseudonym Dietrich Knickerbocker, described St. Nicholas arriving on St. Nicholas’s eve. In 1823, Clement Clark Moore wrote "The Night Before Christmas" which added the rendeer names and other details about Santa. In the early Victorian days, Santa was dressed in green and was often depicted as quite skinny. Thomas Nast, illustrating for Harper's Illustrated Magazine, showed Santa as a bit rounder in the 1860s-1880s. Then, in 1931, Santa emerged quite round and jolly in Coca-Cola ads.
Santa Claus has gone by many names through the past 150 years.
Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Kriss Kringle, to name a few. Kris Kringle was a popular name for Santa in the 19th Century. This illustration is from the cover of an antique children's book about Kris Kringle from the late 1800s. Santa Claus is emerging from the fireplace, as if floating on the smoke, Christmas bag on his back, full of toys and goodies for the lucky children on his Christmas list. The Victorian illustration shows the moment when Kris Kringle emerges and finds a Christmas child, asleep in the chair, waiting for Santa to show up.