Many people are aware that Santa Claus is based on the historical character of St. Nicholas, who was believed to be born around 270 A.D in the area that is now Turkey, and gained a reputation as an anonymous gift giver. What many do not know however, is how Mrs. Claus came into being.
Mrs. Claus first appears in the 1849 James Rees short story 'A Christmas Legend.' Until the 1800s, Santa had always been a bachelor. After this story she then begins to appear in more and more stories, and in 1889 Mrs. Claus is popularised in a poem by Katherine Lee Bates called 'Goody Santa Claus.' In this poem Santa is referred to as 'Goodman' and his wife as 'Goody;' these are old terms meaning good husband and good wife or mistress of the house.
Most sources agree on the character of Mrs. Claus in that she is a jolly, caring character. Her image is also largely agreed upon; above is one of the earliest illustrations of Mrs. Claus on a postcard from 1919 and her image has hardly wavered since its publication.
Compared to Santa, Mrs. Claus is relatively new to our Christmas stories and an invention of many 19th century writers, but she is now a staple of many Christmas films and she looks set to stay.
Girl Museum Inc.