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Santa Claus, the Legend from Lapland

A long, long time ago there lived a woodcarver named Nicholas Claus, and his wife Mrs. Claus. They lived in a tiny village in Lapland. Lapland is a beautiful country very close to the North Pole. The people who live there there use reindeer instead of horses to pull their wagons and sleighs in the winter.

Nicholas and his wife were very sad because they did not have any children. They had been married for many years, and could not have any little ones of their own, so they used to laugh and play with all the village children, who loved them very much. One year, a little girl was visiting Mr. and Mrs. Claus and she saw all the lovely wood carvings that Mr. Claus had made to take to the markets and sell. He had carved tiny little dolls, and animals such as reindeer, wolves, and rabbits.

"Oh Mr. Claus, your work is so lovely," the little girl said. "I do wish that I could buy a little doll from you. But I do not have any money," she sadly sighed.

Mr. Claus smiled at her, and picked out the most beautiful tiny little girl doll he had on the shelf, and handed it to his little friend. "It is yours, little one."

The smile on the little girl's face was worth more to Mr. and Mrs. Claus than all the money the doll would have brought them at market.

After the little girl had gone home Mr. Claus turned to his wife and said "There are many people in our village who are poor and the parents cannot afford little toys for them at Christmas time. I would like to help."

All that summer, Mr. Claus made extra toys and put them away to give to the little children on Christmas Eve.

When the next Christmas Eve came, Mrs. Claus helped Nicholas to load up his sleigh with the wooden toys that he had made. Dressed in his suit of red homespun fleece, trimmed with white rabbit fur, he made a jolly sight indeed. That night when all the children in the village were asleep, Nicholas Claus went door to door in his red sleigh pulled by eight strong reindeer, and left each child a small wooden gift.

The next morning, Mr. and Mrs. Claus were very happy to hear all laughter and see all the smiling faces of the children in the village as they played with their new toys. Every year after that, Mr. Claus continued delivering small gifts to the children of the village until he died when he was very old.

After he had died, all the children were very upset because they thought that the Christmas gifts from the old man would also stop. But they were very wrong.

On Christmas morning the children awoke to find a special gift for each of them, and a little card attached said "Merry Christmas from Sinter Claus". Sinter Claus was the way Laplanders said Saint Claus. Nicholas Claus was made a saint of the little children when he died and, through time, the name was changed to Santa Claus. So that is why there are always presents under the tree with gift-tags that read "Merry Christmas from Santa Claus" in memory of that wonderful man from long ago.

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