A spinoff from the film The Curious Case of Santa Claus, this brings together the historical record with speculations about Nicholas and the origins of various customs associated with Christmas. Crichton describes Nicholas' life and miracles and shows how he came to have special significance as a patron saint and/or folk character all over Europe. He points to the Catholic Church's habit of Christianizing pagan rites and symbols as a possible explanation for the accretions of Santa's reindeer, his entrance and exit through chimneys, hanging stockings, etc. Poetry and other texts are quoted to support the author's ideas. He re-creates a mummers' play in some detail, and concludes with Santa's immigration to the US, his commercialization (beginning with Moore's ""Visit from St. Nicholas""), and the recent anti-Santa backlash. Plenty of dark, heavy-lined b&w illustrations frame the text, extend it, and give the book a 19th-century look. Though Giblin's The Truth About Santa Claus (1985) is still the standard modern work, this makes a good (if expensive) added purchase.