Does santa claus have kids

Santa's family tree goes back further than you might think | Blog

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The Findmypast team

4 December 2020

From St. Nicholas to Mrs. Clause, we're discovering the origins of Santa Claus and revealing his very festive family story.

No matter where you are each year during December, you'll see countless images of Santa Claus as we usher in another Christmas season. But did you ever stop to think where Santa himself came from?

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We decided to do a little festive genealogy by looking into the origins of Santa Claus and the folklore family members that contributed to how we imagine Father Christmas today. Check out who we rounded up and put into Santa's family tree.

St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas was a 4th century Greek bishop who was famous for aiding the poor. In a well-known tale of St. Nick's exploits, he supplied a family with dowry payments for their three daughters with his own inheritance. In a secret night-time visit, St. Nicholas dropped three bags of gold coins into three stockings hung by the fire to dry (in later versions he snuck down the chimney), allowing the daughters to find suitable matches and preventing the family from shame and misfortune.

Saint Nicholas Icon, Holy Trinity Church, Halki seminary.

This tale seems to have given rise to St. Nicholas's reputation as a gift-giver. In Medieval Europe, children were given gifts the night before St. Nicholas' Day, December 6, and his name has now become synonymous with Santa Claus.

You might be surprised to see the fearsome Norse God Odin on this list, but after looking at the below picture, his connection to Santa may not seem so far-fetched after all.

Odin the Wanderer, Georg von Rosen, 1886.

As you can see, there was little visual resemblance between St. Nicholas and Santa Claus, but the modern-day image of Santa was clearly influenced by Odin. Before the Christianization of the German people, they celebrated a midwinter holiday called Yule. Many traditions of this holiday were absorbed into Christmas to encourage participation.

Like our Santa Claus, Odin rode through the sky during the Yule season on a giant equine - the gray 8-hooved horse Sleipnir can be considered a predecessor to the Santa's reindeer. Odin's long white beard and gift-giving tendencies were also emphasized in Yuletime lore.


In many ways, the Dutch mythical figure Sinterklaas is a combination of St. Nicholas and Odin. Sinterklaas also refers to the annual gift-giving holiday in the Netherlands, which takes place either the day before or morning of St. Nicholas' day (December 6), depending on the region.

Sinterklass is an elderly man with long white hair who wears a long red cape and rides a white horse. Just as Santa Claus arrives in a sleigh at the end of December, Sinterklaas traditionally arrives on a steamboat from Spain every year around mid-November, a nationally televised event in the Netherlands.

Another trait Sinterklass shares with Santa Claus is an early version of the naughty or nice list. Sinterklaas carries a book in his hand that contains behavioral records of all children over the past year.

Father Christmas

We can think of Father Christmas as a distant, perhaps even long-lost cousin to Santa Claus. Father Christmas has been around since the 17th century and is traditionally the symbol of the adult celebration of Christmas - feasting, and drinking. Though he doesn't share the gift-giving tendencies of Santa Claus or his more direct forefathers, Father Christmas shared the task of ushering in the holiday season in centuries past.

Father Christmas' origins lie in 17th century England when Puritans were rallying against many forms of Christmas merriment. In the many debates, proponents of a more liberal Christmas celebration would often personify Christmas as a warm, kind man who was receptive to having a good time, but not prone to overdoing it.

He remained a mascot of restrained revelry until the mid 19th century when he slowly began to be overtaken by and confused with Santa Claus.

Mrs. Claus (Mother Christmas)

Mrs. Claus may not be an ancestor of Santa but she's certainly in his family tree. Mrs. Claus made her first appearances in American literature in the mid 19th century.

She was mentioned only in passing until closer to the early 20th century but is now a key part of the legend of Santa Claus in popular culture.

Does Santa have any children?

Although Santa and Mrs. Claus almost never have children in any of their many depictions, there is at least one Christmas Burlesque musical from 1892 that features Kitty Claus, the daughter of Santa. Not surprisingly, it wasn't a classic. It looks like Santa's family tree ends with he and Mrs. Claus for now.

Tim Allen on working with his real-life daughter on The Santa Clauses

The actor discusses his return to the big red suit for the new Disney+ series.

Christian Holub

By Christian Holub September 25, 2022 at 09:00 AM EDT

You read the card, you know what it means: If you put on the suit, you're the big guy. But whoever said being Santa Claus was supposed to last forever? 

This fall, Tim Allen reprises one of his most beloved roles and steps back into the big red suit for The Santa Clauses on Disney+. Having already filmed three movies as Santa Claus from 1994-2006, Allen says it took some convincing to bring him back to the franchise. But it paid off when he walked on set for the first time in full costume. 

"As I walked on set for the first time in the full regalia, everybody got very quiet, both adults and kids," Allen tells EW. "When I show up dressed in the full suit and everything else, there's big smiles on people's faces. Little kids are quiet. I had totally forgotten that. It does feel like Santa's in the room." 


Santa Claus (Tim Allen) speaks to the North Pole on Disney+'s 'The Santa Clauses.'

| Credit: James Clark/Disney +

The Santa Clauses is a family story. Set years after the last film, Allen's Santa Claus/Scott Calvin and Elizabeth Mitchell's Mrs. Claus now have two children of their own (in addition to Charlie, Scott's son from his first marriage, who will once again be played by Eric Lloyd). Buddy (Austin Kane), who was born at the end of The Santa Clause: The Escape Clause, is now a young boy, and he has a younger sister, Sandra, who is played by… Allen's real-life daughter, Elizabeth Allen-Dick. 

Allen says he originally wanted just a small part for Elizabeth, but she really impressed the casting directors and became the best fit for the part. After all, this is a family story.

"It's difficult to believe, but it had very little to do with me," Allen says. "I wanted to put my youngest daughter as an elf, just so she'd see herself in a movie. But as she was reading for that, she read so well that they said, ''We'd like to read her for more of a part.' I said, 'Whatever you want to do. I want nothing to do with it. I don't want to pitch my daughter for a part in the movie.' But she ended up moving to the high ranks. They loved how she read, loved it so much, because she's playing a 13-year-old girl and she is 13. They ended up casting her as Santa's daughter. It was a surprise but it became the most amazing experience."

Allen instinctively refers to The Santa Clauses as a "movie" because, according to him, the scale and detail of the production design rivaled the original films. But while it's fashionable these days to refer to a series as a "six-hour movie," Allen says the episodes of The Santa Clauses are more like "chapters of a book."  

The story finds Scott looking to move his North Pole-born children to Chicago so they can learn what the real world is like. That familial connection with his actual daughter helped him access the emotions of this story. 


Betty (Matilda Lawler), Sandra (Elizabeth Allen-Dick), Buddy (Austin Kane), Santa (Tim Allen), and Mrs. Claus (Elizabeth Mitchell) on 'The Santa Clauses. '

| Credit: James Clark/Disney +

"I don't want to give too much away, but she doesn't want to go," Allen says. "So I tell her, 'Being afraid is okay as long as we can be afraid together.' Even saying the line, I get a little choked up. I looked right at her. One of my photographer buddies was shooting and said it was tear-jerking to watch. I said, 'Well, I'm looking at my kid.' And she literally showed what I learned from Pat Richardson on Home Improvement: Real actors can really emote real emotions. She did it to me there, and I reacted to it, and it was an amazing moment. I'll never forget it."

Elizabeth might not have acted before this series, but she did grow up with an actor and comedian for a father. "My daughter is playing my daughter in the movie. The line kept coming back to me, 'Has she ever done this before?' And I said, 'No.' But she's read scripts with me all the time," Allen says. "We got to play all the time as a comedian. I'm that way around the house. She's able to take a line, make it her own, add value to it and be honest about it. And it was an amazing experience."

The first two episodes of The Santa Clauses premiere Nov. 16 on Disney+.

Related content:

Who is the wife of Santa Claus and who are the parents of the Snow Maiden?

The prototype of winter wizards from different countries is St. Nicholas of Myra, who was born at the end of the 3rd century on the territory of modern Turkey near Antalya. It is unlikely that he ever put on a winter coat and harnessed deer. But then what could connect the priest with the modern Santa Claus, except for the beard?

Nastya Fedorovich TechInsider Editor

It turns out we need to look deeper. From childhood, Nikolai grew up as a compassionate child and helped those who needed help. One day, St. Nicholas quietly threw a bag of gold into the window of a bankrupt merchant, who almost sent his daughters to earn a living by fornication in order to somehow feed their family. Nikolay helped many poor and suffering people by throwing money into their shoes, then into the chimney. So it turns out that the holy and modern Santa Claus are connected by their main hobby - secretly giving gifts.

The image of the winter elder, like many other European traditions, came to Russia in the era of Peter I. Only instead of the good-natured old man who gave gifts to everyone, there was a stern pagan deity with the nickname Frost, who not only didn’t give gifts to anyone, but he still needed to be appeased so that this something would not destroy the winter crops. No wonder this type had no family.

Santa Claus was born on November 18th. It was at this time that the first snow fell in the homeland of the winter wizard. But opinions differ about the year of birth. In 1840, in the collection "Children's Tales of Grandfather Iriney", Vladimir Odoevsky first introduced the good-natured old man Moroz Ivanovich.

And if we identify Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas, then the magician is already 1751. If you count from Odoevsky's collection, he is plus or minus 180 years old. But in any case, it is worth recognizing that the veteran of fabulous labor is well preserved.

Frost's relatives

After Santa Claus showed up for a matinee at the House of Unions with a certain companion Snegurochka in 1937, a lot of questions immediately appeared. If Snegurka is a granddaughter, then where are all the rest - his wife and children?

For the first time, the Snow Maiden became known in 1873 from a play by Alexander Ostrovsky. And it turns out that the young girl is not a granddaughter at all, but a child, and an unplanned one.

Sixteen years ago as a joke

And amusing my fickle temper,

Changeable and whimsical, became

Flirt with Frost, an old grandfather,

Gray-haired prankster; and since then

I am in captivity with the old one. Man

Always like this: give me a little freedom,

And he'll take everything, that's how things are done

From antiquity. Leave the gray-haired one,

Yes, the trouble is, we have an old daughter -

Snow Maiden.

(A.N. Ostrovsky, "The Snow Maiden")

Now we know that the Snow Maiden was the daughter of Frost and his beloved Spring-Krasna with a kind heart that warms with warmth. Spring-Krasna was damn attractive, maybe that's why Grandfather preferred to leave her at home and not drag her around matinees. The connection of Spring and Frost according to Ostrovsky's play became the cause of the tragic fate of the Snow Maiden. It is not the fire that kills her, but the feeling of love that has settled in the girl's heart to the Yaril-Sun.

Why then is Snegurochka a granddaughter and not a daughter?

Folklore tales instilled in us another tradition: since among the old people the entire young generation was divided into granddaughters and granddaughters, Grandfather Frost, being elderly, was no exception. That is why from the daughter of the Snow Maiden she retrained into a granddaughter. And by 1937, everyone had long forgotten about the tragic death of the Snow Maiden, so no one even paid attention to her rebirth from the ashes (puddle). Therefore, officially the Snow Maiden was born at 1937 in the Shchelykovo estate, Kostroma region. He is friends with his grandfather, loves to travel.

And finally, a version for adults

There is also an 18+ version in folklore legends. Santa Claus had a wife - Ice Baba. And they had a daughter - the Snow Maiden. All of them together, under the formidable leadership of Winter, made a rustle in the villages. The meeting with this trinity ended in death. The frost was freezing, the Ice Baba made sleet, and the Snow Maiden sprinkled snow on all the frozen corpses. And no Christmas trees with toys-gifts were present in these rituals. The task of the common people was to pray and ask for mercy from Winter.

"I'm a realist, there are no miracles, period." Parents on why they don't lie to their children about Santa Claus

Mel recently published a text on whether to tell children the truth about Santa Claus. A discussion broke out in the comments, most people spoke in favor of magic. And we talked with those who are in the minority about why they do not support faith in a wizard in children.

“Making a fool of anyone’s head is not my forte”

Marina, Novocheboksarsk, told her daughter the truth about Santa Claus when she was 4 years old

I have always loved the New Year without believing in Santa Claus. I liked the atmosphere of the holiday, and not the attachment to the "dream come true." Once upon a time, an acquaintance with tears in her eyes recalled how she sobbed at the age of five from the accidental discovery that Santa Claus does not exist - and it was strange for me to hear this. I adored fairy tales, understanding that they were fairy tales. It is uncomfortable for me to fake the age perception of the child, it is important for me to be myself. Fooling anyone's head is not my forte.

My parents didn’t fool my brains either, and at the age of five I played the Snow Maiden, fully aware that this was a performance. She did not experience any childhood tragedies on this topic. On the contrary, adults who mislead children have always been annoyed.

My daughter is already 33 years old. But I gave birth to her early, at the age of 20. When she was three years old, they gave her a gift on behalf of Santa Claus - her husband dressed up in him, his daughter recognized him. And already at four she asked with a sly squint whether he really existed. And I answered that Santa Claus is just a fairy-tale character and some attribute of the New Year.

There were no tantrums, the child accepted the information absolutely adequately

Since then, we have always given gifts on our own behalf. I worked as a teacher in a kindergarten that my daughter attended and played the Snow Maiden at New Year's parties. Of course, the daughter understood that since the Snow Maiden was not real, then Santa Claus was also artificial. A little later, other children guessed by their voice and build which of the teachers would dress up as Grandfather. By the way, I remember that I myself formed sweet gifts for my daughter's group at home, and she helped me.

Lisping is not my thing at all, but I don't mind if other parents do it. I'm a realist, there are no miracles, period. But I do not call on all parents to tell the truth.

"Santa Claus at the holidays was an obvious hoax"

Svetlana (name changed), Nizhny Novgorod, never told her daughters about the existence of Santa Claus

I grew up in the Soviet Union, and we were never told about the real existence of Santa Claus. Parents brought sweets, and Santa Clauses at school and kindergarten holidays were always an obvious deception. Or rather, just a suit.

Photo: Olga_Kuzmina / Shutterstock / Fotodom

Therefore, I also did not tell my children that Santa Claus brings gifts (I have twin daughters, now they are already adults). We always celebrated the New Year with our family. Children most often said in advance what they would like for the New Year, and received it for the holiday. Sometimes I brought gifts and said that they were given to all children at work. If gifts were given at school, my daughters also understood that their parents were chipping away at them.

In general, it seems to me that Santa Claus is a trick of modern marketers to take money from parents for magic. Previously, everyone understood that this was just a performance, and it was right.

“I don't want my daughters to think that their parents are deceiving them”

Sergey, Moscow, told the children a year ago that Santa Claus does not exist

Our daughters are 12 and 9 years old. From birth, they believed in Santa Claus, who brings gifts on New Year's Eve - and they found these gifts under the tree on the morning of January 1. From some point, our eldest daughter even wanted to stay awake on New Year's Eve to see Santa Claus putting presents under the Christmas tree - but the dream still turned out to be stronger, and she fell asleep; however, my wife and I had to carefully wait for this moment - and only then carefully go to lay out the gifts. We gave our gifts on the 1st.

But I was worried that at some point all the children learn that Santa Claus does not exist, and parents buy gifts on his behalf and put them under the Christmas tree, and they learn from classmates. And it becomes clear that their parents have been deceiving them all these years. It bothered me, so I firmly decided that if one of the daughters asks: "Does Santa Claus really exist?" - I'll tell the truth.

Last autumn, everything was revealed much easier for us

The youngest daughter on our computer, with our permission, was looking for something in the online store that she needed to order. And she came to us with a question: “So, then, Santa Claus is you?” It turned out that she began to look at the history of orders and saw there a tablet that she ordered for Santa Claus.

My wife and I immediately confirmed her assumption. Our youngest daughter accepted the truth calmly. She told her elder sister about it, she generally took it indifferently.

By the way, my wife and I at the same time told our daughters the truth about the "tooth fairy" - a phenomenon that appeared in these decades, when children received something from the "fairy" for a fallen milk tooth.

I am very glad that everything turned out this way, because I really do not want my daughters to think that their parents are deceiving them. My wife and I basically tell them the truth. But we promised our daughters to give two gifts anyway: one from us, the other, as it were, “from Santa Claus”. On that they agreed.

“They don’t expect Santa Claus to fulfill their orders, but create joy themselves”

Daria, St. Petersburg, tells children that Santa Claus lives only in fairy tales

We have four children in our family, their age is 4 years , 7 years old, 10 and 12. I tell them that Santa Claus lives in fairy tales, but there are people who play him. The eldest daughter was very afraid of Santa Claus, and already at about a year and a half we told her that this was an uncle in disguise - so that she would not be frightened.

Photo: Tequiero / Shutterstock / Fotodom

And in general, I would not want to lie to children. And besides, I want them to understand: it is their parents who create a holiday for them. We do not celebrate the New Year anymore, but Christmas. On this day, there are a lot of gifts under the tree, children are looking for them, they have a whole tradition of unpacking them. We prepare these gifts ourselves, and they also start preparing gifts for each other from a fairly early age: the older ones save pocket money, the younger ones make something themselves. It is the desire to bring joy. They do not expect Santa Claus to fulfill their orders, but they themselves create joy, a miracle for the people they love.

On New Year's Eve, we try to stay with our grandmother: this is an important holiday for her. We get ready, set the table, and by midnight, as a rule, the children are already asleep. Sometimes a grandmother gives gifts to children herself, sometimes she plays Santa Claus and puts gifts under the Christmas tree - everyone takes this calmly.

“Would you like to give me such a gift? Then Santa Claus will bring it!”

Natalya, Balashikha, regrets that she did not tell her daughters the truth about Father Frost before they found out about it themselves

I have two daughters, they are 21 years old and 12 years old. The eldest found out that there was no Santa Claus, at 8-9 years old at school - and accepted this information calmly, she did not have disappointment. But she was a sensible, precocious child. Although, when she was younger and already began to doubt the existence of a wizard, she wrote him a letter and threw it out the window. Miraculously, his grandmother found him, and we managed to keep the secret.

But the younger daughter is more tremulous, vulnerable. She was also told that Santa Claus exists. At the age of 7, the children at school told her the truth. The child had a great tragedy: "You deceived me, it can't be." The new year was ruined.

I began to think about how to get out of this situation, and I came across articles by parents who initially decided not to lie to their children. I thought they were right about something. All year I explained to my youngest daughter that we wanted to make a holiday for her. By the next New Year, she already knew that she could either write a letter to her parents or not say what she wanted at all - and there would be a surprise.

I don’t have children anymore, but if I had, I wouldn’t tell them that Santa Claus exists

I would say that this is a fairy-tale character. And now the children are already adults, and we give gifts to each other. It's also magical: I try to hide my present, the children make something with their own hands and say: "Mom, don't come in." The joy of preparation remains, but everyone knows that this is a gift from a relative, and not from some magician. Probably, more gratitude is preserved this way: children understand that their parents chose the gift themselves, listened to their desires, dreams.

I myself believed in Santa Claus as a child. We didn't have a tradition of writing letters - we just waited for a gift in the morning under the tree. My mother and aunt worked as kindergarten teachers - on New Year's Eve, my aunt always played Santa Claus, my mother - the Snow Maiden. Once, when I was four years old, Santa Claus came to our house - he came with a bag, he knew how I behaved all year, he named specific cases. I was so excited!

And only, probably, at the age of 20, when I had my own child, I found out that my aunt was that Santa Claus, before that I thought that it was a hired actor.

In the story with Santa Claus, I was always embarrassed that children often ask him for something that their parents cannot promise them: a better, more expensive gift. "Won't you donate? Then Santa Claus will bring! It happened once with my youngest daughter. And it turns out that the child has a holiday, and he himself does not give anything to his parents and does not appreciate their contribution.

But there is a moment. I am a believing person, and I am embarrassed that if a child is disappointed in the winter wizard, then he can lose faith in the existence of God. Some believing families tell their children that angels bring gifts. But there is a fine line here: you can be disappointed in angels.

"Faith in miracles must come from within"

Dana, Toronto, does not support children's faith in Santa and Santa Claus, but they believe in them themselves

We have three children: 8, 11, 17 years old. We live in Canada, in the Toronto area. There are many things I don't like about the concept of Santa Claus. Firstly, the holiday, which is very important in many countries, is turning into an orgy of consumerism, mass purchases and a huge number of gifts. The materialism, which is actively promoted in the winter season, is not at all close to me.

Second, I don't like that faith in miracles should be literally cultivated in children by adults. They have to work hard to keep that faith. I am in awe of the ability of children to believe in miracles. But I like it when this happens without my intervention: faith in a miracle must come from within. I think it is much healthier from the point of view of the psyche than walking around and pretending, for example, that Santa Claus exists, and waiting for the moment when the children find out that he is not. This happened, for example, in my childhood: I was surprised that my parents, who were always honest, deceived me.

Photo: Cryptographer / Shutterstock / Fotodom

I also don't like the idea of ​​letters to Santa Claus. It turns out that the children, as it were, order what to bring them. It seems to me that the idea that some higher authority will come and decide everything for them flows from childhood into adulthood - this deprives people of responsibility.

I want my children to be the creators of their own miracles, joy, happiness, and not just their recipients

At the same time, I like to guess what gifts they want. I want to be the mother who listens, hears and takes into account their wishes. Children are extremely pleased that their mother noticed, remembered and did what they want. In addition, it seems to me important to teach children to take care of others: so that they not only order gifts for themselves, but also make them for others.

When our eldest son started asking my husband and me about Santa Claus, we talked with him and together we came to the conclusion that each of us can become this Santa. That we are all creators of a miracle and a holiday, and this is much more interesting than waiting for good things from outside. The younger girls were small then, they did not yet know much about Santa Claus. And I announced that we would ourselves make gifts to each other.

Everyone is preparing gifts for everyone for the New Year: two parents and three children. We try to make gifts beautiful and useful. It can be sweets, candles, jewelry, notepads, scented pillows... If necessary, adults help the little ones. For example, together we sewed toys from felt and felt New Year's decorations from wool, the middle daughter made a calendar with handwritten leaves for dad.

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