Santa Claus is a variation of a Dutch folk tale based on the historical figure Saint Nicholas, a bishop from Myra, who used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. His charity became legend when a man lost his fortune and found himself incapable of supporting his three daughters, who would not be able to find husbands as they lacked dowries. This man was going to give them over to a life of prostitution; however, St Nicholas provided them with gold, enabling them to retain their virginal virtues and marry.
This inspired figure of Sinterklaas, the subject of a major celebration in the Netherlands and Belgium, is celebrated, which in turn inspired both the myth and the name of Santa Claus. "Santa Claus" is actually a mispronunciation of the Dutch word "Sinterklaas" by the English settlers of New Amsterdam (New York).
Despite his origin in the east, in Greece Saint Nicholas is celebrated as a distinct character with no affiliation to Christmas; nevertheless, a Santa Claus character is still present. He is identified with Saint Basil The Great, Archbishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia, Asia Minor (contemporary Turkey), whose feast is celebrated on January 1. According to the Greek tradition, he is supposed to visit children and give presents on New years day. This festival is also marked by the baking of Saint Basil's bread (Gr. Βασιλόπιτα - Vasilópita), a sweetbread with a coin hidden inside.
Depictions of Santa Claus also have a close relationship with the Russian character of Ded Moroz ("Grandfather Frost"). He delivers presents to children and has a red coat, fur boots and long white beard. Much of the iconography of Santa Claus could be seen to derive from Russian traditions of Ded Moroz, particularly transmitted into western European culture through his German folklore equivalent, Väterchen Frost.
Conventionally, Santa Claus is portrayed as a kindly, round-bellied, merry, bespectacled white man in a red coat trimmed with white fur (perhaps remotely derived from the episcopal vestments of the original Bishop Nicholas), with a long white beard and green or white gloves. On Christmas Eve, he rides in his sleigh pulled by reindeer from house to house to give presents to children. During the rest of the year he lives together with his wife Mrs Claus and his elves manufacturing toys. Some modern depictions of Santa (often in advertising and popular entertainment) show the elves and Santa's workshop as more of a processing and distribution facility, ordering and receiving the toys from various toy manufacturers from across the world.
Of course in this set of films Santa's make up is a little different and he isnt quite so jolly and good.....well any Santa who is shaped in the mould of a serial killer cant be that good.....can he????