By Joyce Flores
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so the song goes.
The turkey has all been eaten, the leftovers are gone, Christmas trees are adorned, and as always, the old man in the red suit is waiting at the mall for children to ask for their hearts’ desires. It’s Christmas time.
Among Christmas traditions, Santa Claus might be the most memorable to young children.
The legend of Santa Claus says well-behaved children will receive presents from Santa Claus on Christmas Day.
The legend was later developed to include Santa Claus entering homes through chimneys and traveling around the world in his reindeer-powered sleigh.
Naughty children could find themselves the recipients of lumps of coal.
The North Pole Web Site, http://www.the-north-pole.com, explains that the legend was derived from St. Nicholas who used to give gifts to children.
The legend came to the United States when Dutch immigrants settled in New York in the 17th century.
The modern Santa Claus was a combination of the ideas of writer Washington Irving, cartoonist Thomas Nast and the famous poem “’Twas the night before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore.
Anywhere Santa appears, children can be seen lining up, waiting to tell him what wonderful children they have been throughout the year.
While older children may enjoy sitting on Santa’s lap, it might not be advisable for the younger crowd.
Early childhood studies Professor Linda Ruhmann said toddlers may just see a stranger in a costume and become afraid.
“They find figures of Santa Claus somewhat frightening; they are going through stranger anxiety.”
Older children who are preschool age and younger than 7 are the ones who would get the most out of speaking with Santa Claus, Ruhmann said.