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The history of Santa Claus and the chimney

When you are telling your kids about Santa Claus and just how exactly he gets into your house, the traditional answer is “through the chimney.” This can raise a few questions: “why?” and “what about houses without chimneys?”

santa-claus-chimney-history

We can help you tackle the first question here (for your kids and for those of you curious behind the history behind the logistics of Santa’s yearly journey).

  • A seventeenth-century Dutch painting titled “The Feast of St. Nicholas” depicts a family receiving gifts on St. Nicholas’ Day (Germany and many other countries celebrates the exchange of gifts on December 6th). In this painting, an adult and two toddlers are looking up their chimney, presumably taking in the magic of St. Nick either going up (or sending gifts down) the chimney.
  • There’s another early story about St. Nicholas tossing bags of gold through poor people’s windows (to prevent him from selling his daughters for prostitution). When he reaches a house that has their windows locked, he throws it down the chimney instead.
  • As early as the seventh century, some stories mention St. Nicholas’ ability to teleport  any distance instantly. This explains being able to go through chimneys and that St. Nicholas is able to travel the whole world in one night.
  • Pre-Christian pagan lore mentions house spirits and gods and that they thought of fire as sacred. Therefore, the chimney being a place for fire and as an opening for transportation can quickly turn into myths. Elves and fairies are considered to be mythical creatures and many stories, such as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” refers to Santa as “a right jolly old elf.”

As you can see, there are many theories as to where this myth started. However, it is hard for historians to pinpoint exactly which lends itself to the story. As a result, it is highly debated among scholars.

With all of these theories, they have evolved into the idea that Santa or St. Nicholas lands on your roof at night and magically goes down your chimney. Which leads us to another question: what is the effect of nine reindeer, a sled and Santa on our roof? And what if my roof is desperately in need of repair this winter?

The winter months can take a toll on your roof in the winter time. If you need to get your roof ready for Santa’s visit, give Adamstree Roofing Company a call at (816) 606-7393 today!

  1. DataComm PlusDataComm Plus12-23-2012

    I would think that if Santa can go down a chimney (or get into houses without one) then surely, the reindeer can be light as a feather and won’t hurt the house. Or leave hoof prints.

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