In L. Frank Baum's The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, Santa Claus is a mortal human who is gifted an artifact granting immortality by a council of immortal beings on account of his unprecedented kindness toward children.

The world was new in the days when dear old Santa Claus first began toy-making and won, by his loving deeds, the Mantle of Immortality. And the task of supplying cheering words, sympathy and pretty playthings to all the young of his race did not seem a difficult undertaking at all. But every year more and more children were born into the world, and these, when they grew up, began spreading slowly over all the face of the earth, seeking new homes....

(Old Age, Ch. 2)

This passage, along with others in the rest of the book, seem to indicate that Santa's mortal life was quite a long time ago from the perspective of 1902, when the book was published.

Is there any indication of specifically how long ago Santa Claus's mortal life was? Medieval times? Era of classical Rome? Time of the Sumerians? Bronze Age? Neolithic? Paleolithic? Before humans left Africa? The passage above seems to indicate that humans had not yet settled all parts of the globe by the time of Santa's transformation, so that seems to place a date in the early second millennium AD (e.g. AD 1200, AD 1300), when humans were still settling the South Pacific, as the latest reasonable date, but it feels like the date is supposed to be a lot earlier than that.

Is there anything in the story itself, any of its adaptations, any of Baum's other works, or any other Oz universe works that indicates how old Santa Claus really is?


1 Answer 1


Textual evidence seems to rule out the following possibilities: Bronze Age? Neolithic? Paleolithic? Before humans left Africa?

The young Claus ages at normal human rates. When he has reached the age of

a broad-shouldered, stalwart youth

Ak takes him to visit the lands of humanity. They visit areas that have reached the city-building stage of civilization (including buildings with spires) and have coinage.

Ere long there were spires beneath them, while buildings of many shapes and colors met their downward view. It was a city of men, and Ak, pausing to descend, led Claus to its inclosure.


They visited many dwellings of men in many parts of the world, watching farmers toil in the fields, warriors dash into cruel fray, and merchants exchange their goods for bits of white and yellow metal.

I was unable to narrow it down any farther, other than it seems to be a generic fairy-tale sort of medieval setting.

  • 1
    I think St. Nicholas's birth year of 270 AD is well within parameters.
    – Spencer
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 14:33
  • @Spencer There is a mention of a castle, which suggests a post-Roman setting. "Only at the beautiful palace of the Lord of Lerd and at the frowning castle of the Baron Braun was Claus refused admittance."
    – MJ713
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 14:23

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