Norse God Odin as Santa Claus?

Saint Nicholas

That jolly old elf Santa Claus may have gotten his name from Sinterklaas, a Dutch derivation for  Saint Nicholas of Myra, but his wizened appearance, as well as a few of the customs and characteristics associated with Santa seems to stem from Norse traditions.


Phyllis Siefker, in her book Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas, Spanning 50,000 Years, sees parallels between the Norse god Odin and Santa.  The Germanic winter festival of Yule had many traditions attached to it that we would associate with Christmas today, including caroling and decorating evergreen trees. A Yule custom in which children would put straw for Odin’s eight legged horse into their boots and set them in front of the fire place only to find them filled with candy and toys the next morning seems to have led to the tradition of Christmas stockings today. Odin was, after all, a shape shifting wizard, able to sneak in and out under the cover of night. Saint Nicholas, it seems, was not gifted with such powers, though his love of cookies was notorious.

Vintage (pre-Coca-Cola) Santa Claus

In the early 20th century, Santa began to lose his rough around the edges wizard look and took on more of the child friendly fat man appearance we think of as Santa Claus today. This look was aided, though not invented, by a very popular series of ads by the Coca-Cola company.

Sinister looking vintage Santa

Explore posts in the same categories: Beliefs and Superstitions, urban legends


You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

9 Comments on “Norse God Odin as Santa Claus?”

  1. celestial elf Says:

    I made this machinima film to celebrate Odins part in Christmas/Yuletide ….

  2. connor Says:

    hi there. im not christian anymore, but am swedish and curious of my barbarian roots of religion as it is. i am not a pagan, but am curious are there any more books on the subject of christmas and santa claus’s origins in norse paganism/odin?

  3. Victor Says:

    This is the only one that I’m aware of.

  4. forglemmigej Says:

    inspired by this very theory. Sadly you can’t see my fake latex “missing eye” or the holly garland surrounding the bottom of the hat. Please enlarge or it will be too dark.

  5. chris guyer Says:

    On careful examination I have concluded that the picture of Odin is not real . Odin never wore tennis shoes .

  6. […] the world at mid-winter.  Loved as a bringer of both gifts and wisdom during the Yule celebration, his image evolved into “Father […]

  7. […] I am thankful my parents introduced me to a spiritual community from the time I was born. Over time, I came to not only understand the idea of God is Love, but also God with Us, and the meaning of grace through the death and resurrection of Jesus. I do think it’s funny that people say that “Jesus is the reason for the season” though.. Deep winter festivals were celebrated long before Christmas and the concept of Santa Claus has roots that far pre-date Christianity. While the American Santa Claus may have come from St. Nicholas, far more ancient roots trace the origins of Santa back to the Norse God Odin.  […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: