St Nicholas, Santa Claus and Father Christmas: related but different

Ref: C2423131

The Pagan celebrations were transformed by the Christian Church in Roman times into a form we can largely recognise today. In connection with Christmas celebrations, over many centuries three distinct figures emerged, one real and two mythological – St Nicholas, Father Christmas and Santa Claus - but they have to become interchangeable. In the course we track the changes of Christmas activities from ancient times to the present day. Topics include: The different modes of celebration in the Catholic and Protestant churches. Father Christmas and the Green Man. The merging of Saint Nicholas with Father Christmas. The creation of Santa Claus by an American political cartoonist.

Course aim

The celebration of the Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world. Follow the long journey from ancient festivities to the modern Christmas

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Understand better that modern Christmas celebrations are based on many different traditions
  • Enjoy artworks connected with Christmas, with a greater knowledge of these different traditions
  • Understand better the role of the Christian Church in adapting established mid-winter practices

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

All materials will be provided. Illustrated notes will be distributed in advance.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

St Nicholas, Santa Claus and Father Christmas: related but different

Enrolment Conditions

This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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