Who is Mrs. Claus?

This holiday season read about one of the most famous women of Christmas! Introducing a brief history of Mrs.Claus.

Mrs. Claus may be a staple to our Christmas celebration but there is still lots to uncover and learn about the women who bakes cookies up in the North Pole.

Mr&MrsSantaClaus.jpgImagine Santa’s workshop in the North Pole, with flying reindeer, elves busy making toys, Santa checking his list twice, and Mrs. Claus baking cookies in her kitchen. Mrs.Claus may not travel around delivering toys on Christmas Eve but is a central part of our picture of Christmas and it is hard to imagine celebrating the holiday without her. While the myth of Santa Claus can be traced back to the 4th century, Mrs. Clause is a more recent addition to the holiday legend.

One of the first times the wife of Santa is mentioned is in the short story A Christmas Legend by James Rees published in 1849 but it is not until 1851 when she is first mentioned by name. “He seemed to have done his best; and we should think, had Mrs. Santa Claus to help him”, a student writer for the Yale Literary Review.  Throughout the 19th century, more references to Mrs. Claus appeared and the grandmotherly figure who helps run Sanat’s workshop in the North Pole was formed.

As seen in the book  Lill’s Travels in Santa Claus Land and Other Stories published in 1878

“There was a lady sitting by a golden desk, writing in a large book, and Santa Claus was looking through a great telescope, and every once in a while he stopped and put his ear to a large speaking-tube.

“Presently he said to the lady, ‘Put down a good mark for Sarah Buttermilk. I see she is trying to conquer her quick temper.”

In the 20th century, the character of Mrs. Claus grew and in some stories had her own adventures away from her husband.  Including 1923’s  The Great Adventure of Mrs. Santa Claus,  and 1960s children’s book How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas by  Pulitzer prize-winning author Phyllis McGinley.

Jessica_Claus.jpgThe 1970 stop-motion film Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town introduced a new type of Mrs. Claus with Miss Jessica. Not only is Miss Jessica a younger Mrs. Claus then usually portrayed in Christmas stories but she has a name and an occupation as a school teacher.  It took over hundred years since Mrs. Claus first appearance fo her to became a fully formed character with a life and name outside that of her husband. Still, no matter how amazing Miss Jessica is the old kindly grandmother figure with no name still persists as the archetype for Mrs. Claus.

There are many backstories to Santa Claus, from Saint. Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, and Odin, Santa goes by many names and is given a rich history to how he came to travel around the world delivering toys to good girls and boys. But who is Mrs. Claus? What is her name and how did she find herself married to one of the most famous magical legends of all time?


Melissa Jones, Women’s Museum of California
This holiday season, give the perfect gift to the Women’s History lover in your life. Give the gift of Women’s Museum of California Membership
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