Santa Claus, as a folklore legend, is not considered an elf, though it is often told that he employs elves in his workshop. He is almost always portrayed as a heavy-set Caucasian human with a full white or gray beard.
Santa Claus was named after and inspired by a Turkish monk, St. Nicholas, who was born around 280 A.D. The legend of Santa Claus grew popular in folklore during the Christianization of Germanic Europe in the Middle Ages. His physical characteristics were derived from those of the Norse god Odin. In the 1800s, the modern version of Santa Claus began to emerge in the United States, still as a Caucasian, portly and bearded human.