Whilst we are steeped in Christmas traditions, the question “why does Santa Claus come down the chimney” is still a regularly asked question, particularly by children who understandably fail to see the logic or the practicality in such a possibility.
The idea of Santa Claus coming down the chimney dates back centuries and travels across many countries. Back in pre-Christian times, the Norse God Odin would enter homes via chimneys at the Winter Solstice. The Italians had a witch who traditionally delivered gifts across the nation on Epiphany Eve – this witch (“Befana”) would be covered in soot accumulated from her various journeys down the chimneys.
Much of the tradition of Santa coming down the chimney, however, can be attributed to St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was a Turkish bishop back in the 4th century, famous for his kindness and generosity, particularly towards children. His death on December 6th gave rise to St. Nicholas day. He was, it is said, a rich man, who allegedly gave rise to another Christmas tradition when he wanted to help his daughters get married, by filling their stockings with gifts and leaving them near the fire to dry. The fire which was, of course, just underneath the chimney.
In the 1600s, a Dutch artist by the name of Jan Steen painted a picture called “The Feast Of St. Nicholas”. You can see this painting in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. It depicts St. Nicholas day – December 6th, which is still a traditional day for the giving of Christmas presents in some countries. St. Nicholas has delivered his gifts as onlookers stare up the chimney, with the clear inference that that’s how St. Nicholas has arrived.
Additionally, there have long been traditions that Santa’s Little Helpers – the elves – entered houses through chimneys.
More recently, The poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” has set the idea of Santa coming down the chimney into American folklore. These ideas were almost certainly brought to America with the European immigrants as they moved en masse in the 18th century.
There are, then, various stories that feed into as to Why Does Santa Come Down The Chimney? If you want to make sure Santa’s red suit doesn’t get too dirty, just get in touch!