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Wotan influencing Santa Clause?

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8/6/2011 11:51:35 PM
Posted: 6 years ago
I understand that this is a minor topic, but it is at least a break from the recent surge of threads in this forum. Judging from an objective viewpoint, I can state that it is a minor exercise in: causation or correlation, the implications of a dependence (as drawn from parallels), and even upon the assimilation of other religions into Christian doctrine...

Now, there has been many parallels between Wotan (the counterpart of Odin, who is the chief deity in Norse mythology) and Santa Clause, who was said to be based on Saint Nicholas, though the article suggests that there might be other influences as well:

'Numerous parallels have been drawn between Santa Claus and the figure of Odin, a major god amongst the Germanic peoples prior to their Christianization. Since many of these elements are unrelated to Christianity, there are theories regarding the pagan origins of various customs of the holiday stemming from areas where the Germanic peoples were Christianized and retained elements of their indigenous traditions, surviving in various forms into modern depictions of Santa Claus.[13]

Odin was sometimes recorded, at the native Germanic holiday of Yule, as leading a great hunting party through the sky.[14] Two books from Iceland, the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier sources, and the Prose Edda, written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson, describe Odin as riding an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir that could leap great distances, giving rise to comparisons to Santa Claus's reindeer.[15] Further, Odin was referred to by many names in Skaldic poetry, some of which describe his appearance or functions. These include Síðgrani,[16] Síðskeggr,[17] Langbarðr,[18] (all meaning "long beard") and Jólnir[19] ("Yule figure").

According to some traditions, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odin's flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat....Odin would then reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnir's food with gifts or candy. This practice still survives in Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands and became associated with Saint Nicholas since Christianization. In other countries it has been replaced by the hanging of stockings at the chimney in homes....' (

Does anyone have any theories to how such elements became integrated into the image of Santa Clause or whether or not they actually influenced that image?
"Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto." --Terence

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