portrait of a happy Santa Claus

Here's How Santa Got His Job

Needed: One saint for a rewarding career in gift manufacturing and delivery.

Sure, there are the elves who make the toys, and the reindeer that help to deliver them, but Santa Claus is truly the CEO of Christmas. And when you’re running such a massive operation (and employing thousands of elves as well), it might make you wonder how Santa got his job. Was he hired by some higher mucky-muck, or was it a case of nepotism? Did you have to provide his resume and CV? So many questions need answering to understand how Santa landed the most (sugar) plum job of all.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a human resources department around when Santa Claus became, well, Santa Claus. Much of what is known about him and his rise up the Christmas corporate ladder comes from what we know about history, and tales that have been passed down over time. The Santa Claus story is based on the life of a monk named St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was born in the Roman Empire in 280 A.D. in Patara, a town in what is now modern-day Turkey.

So how did Santa Claus earn his candy cane stripes to become one of the most beloved Christmas characters of all time? Well, much of it is connected to his volunteer experience. As it turns out, St. Nicholas became a patron saint of both sailors and children, having saved three sisters who were to be sold into slavery by giving their father money to use as a dowry so they could be married. His acts of goodness made him one of the most popular saints in all of Europe, and he was celebrated on his feast day, December 6, as a bringer of gifts.

Eventually, other hiring managers realized what an amazing talent St. Nicholas was, and they actively recruited him for this new position they were trying to fill: Santa Claus. (No, not really, but you get the idea.) After Dutch settlers arrived in the U.S., they brought their traditions with them, including the yearly celebration of St. Nicholas on December 6. Soon, the name Santa Claus (a derivative of the Dutch name Sinter Klaas), was on everyone’s lips, and by the 1840s, newspapers began promoting their holiday sales with a Santa Claus image, which was the beginning of Santa Claus’ brand ambassadorship. And when the Salvation Army began dressing unemployed people in Santa suits (and ringing bells, no less), it was the official launch of Santa Claus’ modern career.

Ever since, Santa Claus has held the title Father Christmas for millions of good little boys and girls all over the world. It seems like he truly loves his job and even though he’s really, really old, Santa Claus has no plans to retire any time soon.