Ever been asked by one of your children “why does Santa Claus come down the chimney on Christmas Eve?” It’s a popular question among kids, but not many of us adults actually know the real reason…we thought this month instead of our usual health and safety tips we’d share the answer with you!
The concept of Santa Claus coming down the chimney dates back centuries and is popular in many countries. Back in pagan times, the Norse God Odin would enter homes during Winter Solstice by going through chimneys, and in Italy, a witch named ‘Befana’ would deliver gifts on Epiphany Eve. She was always depicted covered head to toe in soot from her various journeys down the chimney.
Despite these older traditions, much of the current mythology can be attributed to St. Nicholas, a 4th century Turkish bishop, famous for his kindness and generosity, particularly towards children.
In the 1600s, a Dutch artist named Jan Steen, painted a picture called “The Feast of St. Nicholas”. It depicts St. Nicholas Day (6th December), which is still a traditional day for the giving of presents in some countries. In the painting St. Nicholas has delivered his gifts as onlookers stare up the chimney, with the clear suggestion that that’s how he has arrived.
But even more recently, the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” has influenced American folklore, setting the idea of Santa coming down the chimney on Christmas eve. These ideas were almost certainly brought to America with the European immigrants moving across in the 18th century.
So not just one story, but a variety that feeds into the question ‘Why does Santa come down the Chimney?’ If you want to keep your chimney in ship shape ready for the man in red this year, do get in touch!