What Is the History of Santa's Naughty or Nice List?

history-santa-s-naughty-nice-list Credit: Lise Gagne/E+/Getty Images

Santa’s naughty or nice list is said to have originated from Norse folk tales that describe a magician who delivered gifts to good children. The history of Santa Claus dates back centuries and is taken from different tales and traditions around the world.

In Norse mythology, Odin was a god with magical powers who rode an eight-legged flying horse. In some versions, he was called Wodan and was accompanied by two black ravens who listened at people’s chimneys to find out who was good or bad.

The legend of Santa Claus began in the fourth century with Saint Nicholas. He was a protector of children and was known as a kind and generous gift giver. In the 1500s, teachers would dress as Saint Nicholas and beat children who were doing poorly at school and reward good students with candy or money. In Victorian-era Britain, a bearded man known as Father Christmas brought gifts to well-behaved children and used a birch rod to punish naughty ones.

In Holland, Saint Nicholas was known as Sinterklass, and in the 17th century, Dutch colonies in North America began calling him Santa Claus. The popular image of Santa Claus originated in the 1930s when Coca-Cola dressed him in the company's trademark red and white colors for an advertising campaign.