jolly white-haired bearded man: where did Santa Claus come from?

Everyone knows the cheerful, bearded, white-haired overweight guy who sneaks down chimneys on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts to children. Where did this originate, though?
The most popular gift-giver in the world has roots in Christianity that go beyond culture, religion, and time.

It all began with a man who lived in the fourth century named Saint Nicholas. Although the details of his life are not supported by reliable historical sources, legend holds that St. Nicholas of Myra, later known as St. Nicholas of Bari, lived during the great Emperor Constantine’s reign.

He is said to have been born in Patara, a city in ancient Lycia in Asia Minor, which is now a part of Turkey.