The tradition of Santa Claus dates back to St Nicholas - a Turkish bishop (circa 300 AD) from a wealthy family who gave bags of gold to the poor at Christmas time. Accordingly, the earliest portrayals of Santa Claus depict a man in bishop's robes with a long, white beard. The robes were originally red and white, but the color varied by country and culture.
The pipe-smoking "jolly old elf" in the red and white suit was first drawn up by Thomas Nast in the mid-1800's. This image was later embellished by Haddon Sundblom in early 20th century Coca-Cola ads, adding the fur trim, black boots and belt of the modern-day Santa Claus.
Santa's jacket has become fashionably shorter since the Sundblom illustrations.
Santa Claus, St Nicholas, Father Christmas or Kris Kringle - call him what you want, this beloved character has been around for centuries with fashionable updates in attire through the years (see sidebar). Buy old style, classic and modern Santa costumes, professional santa suits, elf costumes, accessories like boots, belts and Santa Bellys, and costumes for the best-dressed Mrs. Claus (traditional to sassy).