December 14, 2012

Who Is Santa Claus? by William Walsh

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I saw this book in the Kindle Lending Library and decided to give it a read for fun. I figured it would be a light read with cute folk lore about Santa and Christmas, perfect for the holiday season. While it was a quick read, it was far more informative than I anticipated. I also thought this might be a book written for a younger audience, but the explication of facts, legends and details Walsh lays out carefully is articulated in a much more mature manner.

Beginning with the origins of Saint Nicholas, Walsh traces the development of modern Santa Claus in a variety of countries and cultures. Because of the limited facts regarding "Santa Claus", the unverified tales tangent into a variety of branches to the question of who Santa Claus is. Walsh tackles many, if not all, of the stories that inform us of this holiday figure. Understandably, reading about all of these stories can get daunting at times, especially because Walsh talks about Santa in a variety of cultures and time periods; but if you're interested in history and culture you will probably love it! 

Walsh also discusses the Christmas Tree, the three Wise Men, and the 12 days of Christmas. Being a Religion major in college I already knew most of the history and background tales noted, but it was very well articulated and better detailed in this book.

My favorite part of this book was learning about how the legend of St. Nicholas blended with Jesus Christ ("Chris Kindlein" or "Christ child") as the center of Christmas. The term Kris Kringle/Krinkle actually coming from Chris Kindlein even though the image of Kris Kringle/Krinkle is that of St. Nicholas. I find it fascinating to see how ideas have developed and changed over time and this book is definitely a great illustration of that in regards to Christmas.

Bottom Line: This is an informative book about the origins of the man we refer to as "Santa Claus". If you're interested in history and culture, this is a great read! Expect it to be informative and detailed rather than a fluffy Christmas book. 4/5 Stars

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