The real story of the modern-day Santa Claus began years ago in a faraway land and has grown over the years as his myth has taken hold in popular culture.

Known as Santa, Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, or Father Christmas, the notion of a fat and jolly man carrying a sack while wearing a red suit and delivering presents to good girls and boys didn’t always exist.

The legend of the modern-day Santa Claus started near a town called Myra in what is now Turkey back in 280 A.D. when a deeply pious bishop known as St. Nicholas traveled the countryside giving his wealth to the poor and sick.

He even saved three sisters from slavery by giving them a dowry so they could get married, according to A&E’s History. The legend of St. Nicholas grew as he continued his many works of charity and soon he became known as a protector of children who would leave gifts throughout the year to brighten their spirits.

St. Nicholas’s many miracles earned him the name Wonderworker, and he became known as the patron saint of sailors, merchants, repentant thieves, children, and students. His birthday on Dec.6, was designated a feast day by the church and soon became a lucky day to make large purchases or get married.

In 1841, a life-size Santa Claus model was on display in a Philadelphia store window, and soon, live Santa Clauses could be found in stores across the country.

Cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa in 1881 with a white beard and red suit complete with elves, a North Pole workshop, and wife Mrs. Claus.

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer didn’t come along until 1939 when Robert L. Mays wrote a short holiday poem to help bring customers into the Montgomery Ward department store.

Today, Santa is seen as a jolly fat man with a long white beard who wears a red suit trimmed with white, who uses a sleigh pulled by reindeer to fly through the sky and deliver toys from his bag to good girls and boys around the world on Christmas.