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Nicholas, the patron of sailors, was built on the San Nicolò al Lido.This tradition was confirmed in two important scientific investigations of the relics in Bari and Venice, which revealed that the relics in the two Italian cities belong to the same skeleton.Pre-modern representations of the gift-giver from Church history and folklore, notably St Nicholas (known in Dutch as Sinterklaas), merged with the English character Father Christmas to create the character known to Americans and the rest of the English-speaking world as "Santa Claus" (a phonetic derivation of "Sinterklaas").

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For example, in Washington Irving's History of New York (1809), Sinterklaas was Americanized into "Santa Claus" (a name first used in the American press in 1773) but lost his bishop's apparel, and was at first pictured as a thick-bellied Dutch sailor with a pipe in a green winter coat. We are all sad; no loud, jovial laugh from our boys is heard.Irving's book was a lampoon of the Dutch culture of New York, and much of this portrait is his joking invention. This has usually been a very busy day with me, preparing for Christmas not only for my own tables, but for gifts for my servants. Christmas Eve, which has ever been gaily celebrated here, which has witnessed the popping of firecrackers …In continental Europe (more precisely the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, the Czech Republic and Germany) he is usually portrayed as a bearded bishop in canonical robes. In 1087, the Italian city of Bari mounted an expedition to locate the tomb of the Saint. Nicholas was conquered by Italian sailors and his relics were taken to Bari where they are kept to this day.A basilica was constructed the same year to store the loot and the area became a pilgrimage site for the devout.This date was earlier than the original day of gifts for the children, which moved in the course of the Reformation and its opposition to the veneration of saints in many countries on the 24th and 25 December. The custom of gifting to children at Christmas has been propagated by Martin Luther as an alternative to the previous very popular gift custom on St.

Nicholas, to focus the interest of the children to Christ instead of the veneration of saints.

with one famous image being John Leech's illustration of the "Ghost of Christmas Present" in Charles Dickens's festive classic A Christmas Carol (1843), as a great genial man in a green coat lined with fur who takes Scrooge through the bustling streets of London on the current Christmas morning, sprinkling the essence of Christmas onto the happy populace.

In the Netherlands and Belgium the character of Santa Claus has to compete with that of Sinterklaas, Santa's presumed progenitor.

Saint Nicholas was later claimed as a patron saint of many diverse groups, from archers, sailors, and children to pawnbrokers.

During the Middle Ages, often on the evening before his name day of 6 December, children were bestowed gifts in his honour.

He accomplishes this feat with the aid of his elves, who make the toys in his workshop at the North Pole, and his flying reindeer, who pull his sleigh.