Santa Claus: Born in NYC

An exhibit at the New-York Historical Society traces St. Nick’s 23rd Street roots

By Elizabeth Bougerol
|  Wednesday, Dec 23, 2009  |  Updated 11:45 AM EDT
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Santa Claus: Born in NYC

caruba/Flickr Creative Commons 2.0

Santa: Born in NYC.

New York’s greatest export may not be bagels or Woody Allen – it’s the fat man in the red suit, the dude of the hour. Kris Kringle as we know him sprang forth from the imagination of (New Yorker) Clement Clarke Moore, who penned his epic 1829 yuletide poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” to amuse his kids at his digs on 23rd Street. The story’s hero was St. Nicholas, the patron of old Dutch New York, who thus became linked to Christmas, and boom: Santa Claus was forever intertwined with the American concept of the holiday. And a New-York Historical Society exhibit running through January 10 traces Kringle’s Big Appple roots.

From the NYHS:

To celebrate the winter season, the New-York Historical Society is presenting "It Happened Here: The Invention of Santa Claus," an installation tracing the modern image of Santa Claus, the red-suited, pot-bellied descendant of the medieval bishop St. Nicholas of Myra, which emerged only decades after the first Congress met in 1788 in Federal Hall in New York. The exhibition features Robert Weir's 1837 painting of a rather sly St. Nicholas and Thomas Nast's Harper's Weekly cartoons of Santa.

Details
“It Happened Here: The Invention of Santa Claus”
Tuesday-Sunday, through January 10
The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West; 212-873-3400
Regular adult admission $12
More information here

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