Santa from the mid-19th CenturyCredit: Thomas Nast

Father Christmas, Sinterklaas, Old Saint Nick and a dozen other names are often used around the world to describe a jolly old man in red suit, black boots with a white beard and mustache. None of these names is more famous or well-known than Santa Claus.

This year, as any other, Santa will make his yearly pilgrimage to deliver toys and gifts to deserving children all around the world. He makes no distinction, by any definition, and each will child will receive his jusr desserts. He is an amazingly non=righteous character.

Still, Santa is not quite the character as portrayed by popular culture. He is a much deeper character who deserves all the respect that is given to him every year. Here are seven things that you didn’t know about the one and only, Santa Claus:

He's a Christian

Saint Nicholas(122941)Saint Nicholas

That’s right. Through and through, Santa Claus believes in and espouses Christian charity. As demonstrated by his membership in the Catholic canon of saints, his benevolence is not born of any secular, modernist trappings but is, instead, deeply rooted in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ. The modern conception of Santa draws its inspiration if not his actual appearance from the 4th century Greek bishop of Myra, Saint Nicholas. It is truly remarkable, if somewhat misguided, that atheists focus their efforts on banning the Christmas tree, a completely secular construct, instead of Old Saint Nick.

He Prefers Anonymity

Santa by the ChimneySanta truly believes that the best charity is given anonymously. In fact, he would maintain that the anonymous charitable act is doubly blessed for it enriches both the giver and the receiver. While credited with unbelievable acts of kindness and generosity, Santa understands that he is just a foil so that others may give to others and obtain the true rewards of giving without recognition. Still, be sure to leave him some milk and cookies. He’s got quite an appetite.

He Owes a Debt of Gratitude to the Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum's SantaIt is a bit of stretch to make this assertion but Frank L. Baum, the author of The Wizard of Oz institutionalized much of the mythos surrounding Santa Claus in another of his works, The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Among other things, Mr. Baum credits Santa with the invention of toys, the use of magical reindeer and provides a reason why Santa is aged but also immortal. Santa has changed much since his modern origins as depicted by Clement Clarke Moore and Thomas Nast but nothing has solidified his image as much as Mr. Baum’s work.

He's the Patron Saint of Thieves

Bad, Bad SantaSanta would never approve of the immoral actions of thieves. Rather, as true Christian, he is more concerned for their immortal souls rather than the immediate ramifications that their actions have on this earth. Thus, he favors those who would repent of their thieving ways and help them guide their future activities. In fact, it is well documented that Santa has shamed more than one thief into changing his ways. Just check out Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

He's Living in Sin

Mr. and Mrs. ClausThere is no actual record of any Mrs. Claus and the North Pole’s Hall of Records, so that woman at the Santa’s workshop is obviously just his girlfriend. It may be a sad state of affairs but Santa is a man, after all, and, with the current state of relations between the sexes, he makes no apologies for his actions. By all accounts, “Mrs. Claus” is also happy with the situation.

He Can be Tracked by Radar

Santa's SleighWhile Santa uses the latest GPS technology to get from one place to another, he has not been able to acquire any of the advanced Stealth technology used by the United States military. The U.S.A.F. maintains that this restriction is for Santa’s own safety. A spokesman for NORAD gave the following official statement, “Santa, of necessity, must travel at a particularly high rate of speed to accomplish his once-a-year mission. While we do not restrict his movements in any way – the President’s children would like presents too - it is essential that we track him to avoid collisions with civilian and military craft.”

He Does Exists - In Our Hearts

The Real SantaThere is no use in arguing the point. You either believe or you don’t. None put it more eloquently and poignantly than Francis P. Church in 1897 when he responded to a little girl’s question about the existence of Santa,

“Your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

“All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to our life its highest beauty and joy.

“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

“Not believe in Santa Claus? You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your Papa to hire men to watch all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?

“Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

“Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders that are unseen and unseeable in the world.

“You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, or even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond.

“Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else as real and abiding.

“No Santa Claus? Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, maybe 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the hearts of children.”