Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.
Santa Claus is someone who will remain in the hearts of children forever. He is the make-believe person who brings toys and other gifts to children at Christmas. To grown-ups, he is a special symbol of good will and selfless giving.
Santa Claus also has some other names: Saint Nicholas, St. Nick, Kris Kringle, Pelznickel.
Two of his names -- Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas -- both come from the Dutch who settled in New York long ago.
The Dutch believed Saint Nikolaas gave gifts to children. They honored this kindly saint with a yearly festival on December 6th. The English-speaking people who lived nearby greatly enjoyed Dutch festivals. And they brought the saint and the custom of giving gifts into their own celebration at Christmas time.
The Dutch version of Santa Claus, Sinterklaas, or Saint Nicholas, and his blackface helpers Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) arrive by steamboat in Hoorn, northwestern Netherlands, Nov. 16, 2013.
The Dutch spoke the name "Saint Nikolaas" very fast. It sounded like "Sinterklaas." And so, when the English said this word, it sounded like Santa Claus.
West of New York, in Pennsylvania, many German farmers had also heard of Saint Nikolaas. But they called him Pelznickel. This word came from "pelz," meaning fur, and "nickel" for Nicholas. And so, to the Germans of Pennsylvania, Saint Nicholas or Pelznickel was a man dressed in fur who came once a year with gifts for good children.
Soon, people began to feel that the love and kindness Pelznickel brought should be part of a celebration honoring the Christkindl, as the Germans called the Christ child. After a time, this became "Kris Kringle." Later, Kris Kringle became another name for Santa Claus himself.
People dressed as Father Frost, the named used locally for Santa Claus, and Snow Maiden greet passers-by during a New Year parade in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. (Reuters Image)
Whatever he is called, he is still the same short, fat, jolly old man with a long beard, wearing a red suit with white fur.
The picture of Santa Claus, as we see him, came from Thomas Nast. He was an American painter born in Bavaria. He painted pictures for Christmas poems. Someone asked him to paint a picture of Santa Claus.
Nast remembered when he was a little boy in southern Germany. Every Christmas, a fat old man gave toys and cakes to the children. So, when Nast painted the picture, his Santa Claus looked like the kindly old man of his childhood. And through the years, Nast's painting has remained as the most popular picture Of Santa Claus.
Santa can be seen almost everywhere in large American cities during the Christmas season. Some stand on street corners asking for money to buy food and gifts for the needy. Others are found in stores and shopping centers.
It is easy to find them by the long lines of children waiting to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. If one took a vote among children to learn who their favorite person was, there is no question who would win -- Santa Claus.
1.make-believe n. 伪装；虚伪；假扮者 adj. 假装的；虚假的
The violence in those films was too unreal, it was make-believe.
2.steamboat n. 汽船，轮船
The steamboat could sail upriver, against the flow.
3.needy adj. 贫困的；贫穷的；生活艰苦的
There will be efforts to get larger amounts of food to the needy.
圣诞老人(Santa Claus)将永远留在孩子们的心中。圣诞老人是虚幻的人物，在圣诞节给孩子们带来玩具和其他礼物 。对于成年人来说，他是亲善和无私的特殊象征 。
圣诞老人还有几个其他名字：Saint Nicholas, St. Nick, Kris Kringle, Pelznickel.
其中两个名字——Santa Claus和Saint Nicholas都来自许多年前来纽约定居的荷兰人。
荷兰人相信Saint Nicholas给孩子们带来礼物。他们在一年一度的12月6日的节日敬奉这位伟大的圣人 。居住在附近的讲英语的人非常喜欢荷兰人的节日 。他们把圣诞老人和送礼物的习俗带到了自己的圣诞节中 。
荷兰人说“Saint Nikolaas”这个名字的时候语速非常快，听上去像是"Sinterklaas." 所以，在英语中说这个词的时候，听上去像是Santa Claus。
在纽约西部的宾夕法尼亚，许多德国农民也听说了圣诞老人，但是他们叫做Pelznickel。这个词语来自“pelz”，意思是皮毛，和“nickel”，意思是Nicholas(尼古拉斯) 。所以，对于宾夕法尼亚的德国人来说，Saint Nicholas或者Pelznickel是一个穿着毛皮服饰的人，每年来一次，给好孩子分发礼物 。
很快，人们开始感觉，Pelznickel带来的爱和善意应该在他们庆祝Christkindl时体现出来。Christkindl在德语中叫做Christ child 。经过一段时间之后，逐渐演变成Kris Kringle 。随后，Kris Kringle也成为圣诞老人的另外一个名字 。
我们看到的这张圣诞老人画像来自Thomas Nast。他是一名美国油画家，出生在巴伐利亚 。他为一些圣诞诗歌创作了这些画像 。有人建议他画一幅圣诞老人的画像 。
Nast孩提时代居住在德国南部。每个圣诞节，一位胖胖的老人给孩子们分发玩具和蛋糕 。所以，Nast画这幅画像的时候，他的圣诞老人看上去就是他童年时代那位善良的老人 。多年来，Nast创作的画像仍然是最受欢迎的圣诞老人画像 。
圣诞节期间，圣诞老人在美国的大城市里随处可见。一些人站在街道拐角处讨钱，为那些贫困者购买食物和礼物 。其他圣诞老人在商场或购物中心 。