The 200-year legacy of the American Santa Claus as we know him is meticulously documented and explained in author Tom Jerman’s new book, Santa Claus Worldwide: A History of St. Nicholas and Other Holiday Gift-Bringers.

Readers will learn Santa’s true origin story, plus a deep dive into the backstories of other midwinter gift-givers from all over the globe.

Readers will learn about:

• How midwinter gift-givers developed over thousands of years;

• The difference between Catholic followers of St. Nicholas and Protestant followers of the secular “terror men” in Europe following the Reformation;

• Historical examples of midwinter gift-givers who were female, Black, rich, gay, atheist and communist;

• When and how a New York printer named William Gilley created the “American Santa Claus” in an 1821 booklet, The Children’s Friend;

• How a wealthy New York professor, Clement C. Moore, bought a copy of The Children’s Friend and, in 1822, wrote “The Night Before Christmas;” and

• How The Children’s Friend disappeared from history until it was rediscovered in 1953.

“Santa indisputably exists as the symbol of Christmas, and Christmas represents our most noble virtues,” Jerman said in a release. “Symbols are real, and they can be very powerful.”

Jerman, a resident of Asheville, N.C., has bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and journalism and a juris doctorate degree from the University of Utah.