Most historians agree that Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas of Myra,
a Greek bishop known for his kindness and miracles performed for the poor. The historical figure of Saint Nicholas then served as the inspiration for Sinterklass
, a Dutch figure with white hair, a white beard, a red cape, and a red bishop alb who carries a book containing a naughty or nice list.
And then there's "Father Christmas" from English folklore dating back to the 15th century, which served as a personification of the holiday and was associated with merry-making, singing, drinking, and eventually, gift-giving.
Still, there are many aspects associated with Santa Claus that aren’t explained solely by these influences.
For example, Santa Claus traditionally rides on a sled pulled by reindeer, while Sinterklass rides a white horse. And what about his frigid home, the North Pole?
The answer may lie in the Lapland region of Finland, which rests in the Arctic Circle, where you'll find the indigenous Sami
people. Traditionally, during the Winter Solstice, Sami families would get a visit from shamans to participate in a spiritual healing ritual involving Amanita muscaria.