For as long as I can remember, every Christmas, I have been confused by what exactly Santa Claus is.
Historically, Santa Claus is St. Nicholas of Myra, a Christian archbishop in modern-day Turkey who lived during the Roman persecution of the Church and was present at the Council of Nicea. He was claimed to be a wonder-worker, and was also well-known for his anonymous gifts to the needy. He has historically been honored on the 6th of December, and because of his generous reputation convents and monasteries began a tradition of sneaking out at night and delivering gifts to the poor. (see here, here, and here for references, the middle one being especially fantastic)
Among the hundred or so other things of which he was patron saint, one of them was sailors. For this reason, sailors would often find themselves back home on the 6th, and be able to give a present obtained at sea to their children "from St. Nicholas".
That all makes sense to me. Santa was a really cool guy who loved the poor and Jesus, and he was such a great guy we still do nice things for children and the poor because of him. "Here's an extra toy, son, in honor of this really great guy." Awesome, sign me up!
What doesn't make sense, though, is the weird Santa of American folklore, the guy who lives at the North Pole with a cadre of elves, who flies around in a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer and sneaks in to your chimney to deliver gifts to all the kids all over the world.
I mean, what is he?
|goblin --> elf, Great Goblin |-> Santa|
This is literally how I understood
this as a child