A Brief History of Santa Chairs
It is well known that one of the earliest figures associated with the modern-day Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas, a Christian bishop who lived in the 4th century in modern-day Turkey. He became known for his generosity and his habit of leaving gifts for children on December 6, which is celebrated as Saint Nicholas Day in many countries.
Over time, the story of Saint Nicholas evolved and spread throughout Europe. In the Netherlands, he became known as Sinterklaas, who traveled on a white horse and left gifts for good children on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day.
In the 1800s, the figure of Santa Claus began to take shape in North America. This was due in part to the influence of Dutch settlers in New York, who brought the Sinterklaas tradition with them. The image of Santa Claus as we know it today was further popularized by the 1823 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (also known as “The Night Before Christmas”), which described Santa Claus as a jolly, rotund man with a white beard, a red suit, and a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer.
The beginning of the Santa chair accessory begins in the 19th century, when Canadian entrepreneur James Edgar introduced the concept of dressing up as Santa Claus at his store in Brockton, Massachusetts.
The idea quickly caught on, and soon other department stores across North America began to feature a man dressed as Santa Claus as part of their elaborate holiday displays, including trees, lights, and other holiday décor.
The tradition of children sitting on the jolly Elf’s lap (while he is sitting on his Santa chair) can be traced back to the early 20th century. For many years, children would stand in line to talk to Santa and receive a gift, but the practice of sitting on Santa’s lap became popularized in the 1920s and 30s.
Children would line up to sit on Santa’s lap and share their holiday wishes, and they would often receive a small gift or a piece of candy in return. The Santa chair tradition remains popular to this day.
Evolution of the Design of Santa Chairs
The design of Santa chairs has evolved significantly over the years. In the early days, chairs were often simple and utilitarian, made from wood and featuring minimal decorations. However, as the tradition of Santa’s chair became more established, chairs began to be designed with more elaborate decorations, such as fur trim, tassels, and intricate carvings.
In the mid-20th century, a more modern, streamlined style of Santa’s chair emerged, often featuring round, curved lines and sleek materials such as metal and plastic. This style was particularly popular in the 1950s and 60s, reflecting the era’s fascination with futuristic designs.
In recent years, a more rustic and traditional style of Santa’s chair has become popular, often featuring wood and other natural materials. These chairs are designed to reflect the nostalgic, old-fashioned charm of the holiday season.
Despite these changes, certain universal elements remain consistent in Santa’s chair design. Most notably, the chair is typically oversized and designed to be comfortable for Santa Claus to sit in. It is also often adorned with festive decorations such as holly leaves, Christmas lights, and ornaments, helping to create a magical atmosphere for children during the holiday season.
Some More Fun Facts About the Santa Chair
- In 2008, a Santa chair made from 6,000 chocolate bars was created in Paris.
- The largest Santa chair in the world was created in 2011 in Trafford Centre, England. It was 15 m high and weighed 3.5 tonnes.
- The Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of Father Christmases was set in 2014, when 18,112 people dressed up as Santa Claus and gathered in Ireland. They posed for a picture in front of a specially designed Santa chair.
- The oldest Santa chair in the U.S. can be found at the flagship Macy’s store in New York City. It dates back to the 1860s.
- Many Santa chairs installed in malls come equipped with a hidden wire that allows Santa to discreetly talk to a helper nearby who can take notes and help manage the line of children.
- The Santa Chair at Santa Claus Village in Lapland, Finland, is a popular destination for tourists around the world. Visitors can pose for pictures with Santa, ride a reindeer sled, and explore the magical winter wonderland.