What is the deal with Santa Claus
December 17, 2005 1:51 PM   Subscribe

Does Santa have a middle name?
posted by Botunda to Society & Culture (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: He says no, at least not in the U.S.:
Mostly in the United States I'm just Santa Claus or Kris Kringle, no middle name.
Though I'm partial to "Irving."
posted by Opposite George at 2:03 PM on December 17, 2005

Best answer: It depends, doesn't it? Do you think he's St. Nicholas or Kris Kringle?

USA Today says he doesn't.
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:07 PM on December 17, 2005

Best answer: Well, geez. Fine, then, since my other comment was too late, I'll vote for Santa Claus as the title, Kris Kringle as his actual name.

And I'll refer you to L. Frank Baum's (yes, the Oz guy's) Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. I read it every year growing up -- it wasn't Christmastime without it.
posted by booksandlibretti at 2:10 PM on December 17, 2005

Nope. Well, unless you count some of the things Mrs. Claus calls me sometimes.
posted by Santa Claus at 3:02 PM on December 17, 2005

Disregard the above post from (yeah, right) "Santa Claus." Santa Claus is far too busy this time of year to be reading AskMe.

Now, on further reflection, I have a theory consistent with the USA Today interview:

New York WASP, Mexican and Hollywood propaganda notwithstanding, the fact is St. Nick is Greek* (hey, his name is "Nicholas!")

So, as a fellow Hellene, I'd guess his middle name is probably George or Constantine; though if his parents were classicists maybe Sophocles or Euripides. Nicholas, the alpha dog of Greek male names, is out for obvious reasons.

Thinking this through a bit more, I'll have to go with Euripides, since it's foreign to most Americans. This would explain his cryptic comment, "In the United States... no middle name." He's probably sick of having to spell it out all the time when setting up magazine subscriptions, credit cards, etc. (I have some experience here and definitely feel his pain.)

Now, as for the reindeer, thing... they're really donkeys (Lou Monte had it right.)

*Even though Myra is in modern Turkey at the time the local culture was Byzantine/Hellenistic.
posted by Opposite George at 3:08 PM on December 17, 2005

It was my impression Santa was a Dutch invention, coming from "Sinterklaas"...
posted by vanoakenfold at 4:19 PM on December 17, 2005

Does he have a last name? What's this middle name going in the middle of?
posted by occhiblu at 9:51 PM on December 17, 2005

Santa Gimme Claus.

I had an idea this evening: wouldn't it be nice if all adults and parents requested of their giftees, that instead of a material thing, give to [name your favourite] charity.

Given the size of the now getting old, wealthiest-generation-ever parents and grandparents are all hopelessly overcluttered with crap from a lifetime's worth of living, I rather strongly suspect this would amount to such an amount that huge changes could be wrought in their name.

And it would make Christmas a truly great holiday, one that really demonstrated true Christian selflessness and giving to others.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:20 PM on December 17, 2005

Opposite George, if I can deliver presents to millions of homes in a single night, you bet your shiny red nose I can find a few moments to read Ask MetaFilter. I don't see any reason I shouldn't be allowed to slack on the job as much anyone else. Actually, as the boss I have unlimited slacking rights.

Besides, the majority of the preparation for the Big Night is done by my quite economical labor force. (By the way, you know that new Mechanical Turk thing at Amazon.com? Goldmine.)

faceonmars: Your dad's been talking to Mrs. Claus, I see...

I heartily endorse fff's idea. Certificates confirming a donation in the recipient's name are very light in weight. I like lightweight gifts.
posted by Santa Claus at 11:51 PM on December 17, 2005

The best gift of all is a donation in name and a permission slip to go spend X cash dollars on yourself however you like with not the slightest need of justification. (The deal is, the gifter gets to do the same X cash dollars for him/herself, in lieu of receiving a gift from the giftee. So it all works out the same: you get to spoil yourself without care, and someone somewhere else got a gift, too.

My sister and I do this. It's so freeing!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:19 AM on December 18, 2005

c/The best gift of all/The best gift to receive/
posted by five fresh fish at 12:19 AM on December 18, 2005

Santa Claus,

I must admit you make a pretty good case (and come to think of it I think I've heard some people at the mall using the same middle name faceonmars suggests. But if you're right that means...
that, that means...
that, that....
Aw hell! It means my parents have been LYING to me about you for all these years!

I feel so disillusioned, and to have one's innocence taken so young (at the tender age of 39!) "State of shock" doesn't even begin to describe where I'm at now. My whole world turned upside down! I'm even questioning whether the Easter Bunny's name is really "Panayiotis!" And did they really send Spot to a farm in the country so he could play with other dogs?...

What a trip. Just one thing. I hope for your own sake you're not treating this joyous season as an excuse for some elaborate Grinchery.
So help me, Kringle, you'd better not be screwing with me. I know where you live.
posted by Opposite George at 12:47 AM on December 18, 2005

But as a former business consultant let me suggest that if you chip in every now and then it might boost the elves' sense of being on a team. Once you have that, of course, you can work them till their pointy little hats fall off...
posted by Opposite George at 12:52 AM on December 18, 2005

If you are talking about the Saint Nikolaos/Nikolaus/Nicolaus he probably used his name and a patronym (his father's name - which I don't know what was). It is also not impossible he can have used a derivation of the place name of the place he was born, Patara in Lycia (Asia Minor), to set him apart from other Nikolaoses when abroad. When he became bishop of Myra I he would use that. (This is merely some educated guesswork, I'm more familiar with the western part of the empire).

If you are talking about the modern invention, Santa Claus, I bow to the superior knowledge of others, since he is not a part of my culture, I just call him Nissen.
posted by mummimamma at 12:55 AM on December 18, 2005

This is merely some educated guesswork...

Your educated guesswork is probably pretty good. Even modern surnames often derive from locales, especially among immigrant communities. The classic (fictional) example of this is "Vito Corleone" in The Godfather.

On an almost related topic concerning Greek naming conventions and the patronym, there is a tradition among some Greeks of giving the first-born son the father's middle name as the son's first name and the father's first name as the son's middle name. The first-born son's then supposed to continue the tradition. At least that's the way it works in my family. So you get a chain of John Peters fathering Peter Johns and so on...

And of course there's all those "Pappases" running around who got that name thanks to having a priest in their background. Before my great-grandfather became a priest his last name was "Pseftelis;" his children got the last name "Pappadimitreou" -- basically, "Of Father Dimitrious" -- I see that giggling in the back row -- yes, married men can become priests in the Eastern rites.

Anyway, I don't know how far back either of those traditions run, and in fact I wouldn't be surprised if the Western concepts of first, middle and last names didn't map neatly to how things were done in 3rd-century Asia Minor (you probably know more than me about that.) Unfortunately, there isn't that much that's really known about Nicholas of Myra (some suggest he's entirely fictional,) so your guess is probably as good as anybody's.
posted by Opposite George at 1:32 AM on December 18, 2005

His last name is actually DM, full name being "Santa Claus DM."
posted by starscream at 4:07 AM on December 18, 2005

An Irishman, Nich O'Las?
posted by Cranberry at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2005

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