In contradiction to what christianity had led us to believe, and later american consumerism, I suggest that Santa Claus origin is rather to be found in the northern folklore figure of Väinämöinen, the hero creator of our world anew. And in the stories about him where he is viewed as the bringer of conciousness. A seer and creator. A bard, and the spirit of chants, songs and poetry.
Väinämöinen is thus very far from the figure we invigorate our children with today. And he has nothing to do with our present day view of Santa Claus or its Christian substitution Saint Nicholas.
Väinämöinen is connected to the foundation of the world pillar, also thought of as the “world tree” that was thought to rest on the Pohjantähti or the North Star holding up the world. This is the very star that we put at the top of the christmas tree.
The north star and its position in the sky is also what guides the noadi heroes to seek marriage with the daughters of Pohjola. Here in Pohjola the female Louhi is the powerful and evil witch queen ruling over this northern realm with her ability to change shape and weave mighty enchantments. She is a queen of great powers and she request a payment for the hands of her daughters in marriage. Without payment she will not take on any of the character traits we experience of her in the shape of them. We have to give something up for her to show herself. Louhi also sets difficult to impossible tasks to perform in order to claim such a prize, which leads to the forging of the Sampo.
The sampo is one such payment, a magic mill of plenty which churns out abundance. And abundance is what we feel when we are connected to this axis or tree. Its churning lid have also been interpreted as a symbol of the celestial vault of the heavens, embedded with stars, revolving around a central axis. It can also be seen as the eternal sum of all time and our experience of being in its constant course. The relentless circling around its axis and the churning as our inner work. The ordeals we have to go through to enter her world in between. The giving of gifts as the sampo, can be seen as an act of that personal work and of our sacrifices where we submit to the experience of her, and where we learn about her true character. We have to earn her acceptance before she gets visible go us and show us some of her benevolent and helpful aspects. The hero or noaidi has to give something up for his transference and to gain entrance into Pohjola. To be able get himself this kind of a wife. Which is done with chants, songs and poetry. By developing his creative skills. Otherwise her magic influence will seduce you using your imagination. Which is was true magic is all about in our everyday life. But maybe, if he can cope with this, she might come to his support with her magical abilities in return for the efforts as he get access to the celestial world of the heavens through her. But first the noadi hero must help to keep the world up on its pillar by some sacrifice. Because if there is no pillar, there is no wife. And there certaintly is no world.
There is also a good reason for doing all this at the time of “Christmas”. Christmas is celebrated on the winter solstice when the pillar seems to be at its weakest, and almost broken on the longest night of the year. I think christmas was originally a ceremony linked to the winter solstice. And that it is a recognition of rebirth, of creating and balancing up the world again with the help of the spirit of Väinämöinen. We are trying to assemble back the lost gift. The Sampo that has been lost when stolen by Louhi, and broken into pieces. On the winter solstice we want to show that we have submitted ourselves to the search by bringing back the pieces of the sampo in our giving of Christmas gifts, to help the spirit of the noadi/hero to enter into this purely abstract place, a foreboding forever cold land far in the north. And to meet with Louhi.
By celebrating Christmas, we are actually trying to bring back the abundance of her shared space, to access what is inside it by putting the pieces back together again and go through the trials required in trying to work with Louhi in a ceremonial way.