I have it on good authority that the reason for Santa Claus having so many names isn't because he is an amalgamation of many different persons through history but that in fact each and every name by which we know Santa was in fact a person that served as Santa!
Everyone knows Kris Kringle and Father Christmas (who's actual name was Christopher T. Maüs, and he was a priest), and Saint Nicholas. Some might even know Sinterklas and Papa Noel, but very few (outside of the country the person is from) know of Svaty Miklas, Deda Mraz, Babbo Natale, Christian Bozicek, Sergi Kolyady, or Arjun Ganesha.
From records I've managed to acquire it appears that every 50 years a new 'Santa' is chosen. It's not clear why that length of time is important but from what I've pieced together it seems that a new Santa can only be chosen after they reach a certain age. Build isn't important, so not all of them have the bowl full of jelly like stomach, though it appears they all have beards. Several were chosen young enough so that their beards were not yet grayed.
I do feel the need to point out that several of the books, documents, and (in some cases) scrolls are incomplete. What information I do have isn't the full story, but here are a few other tidbits I have gleaned from the documents:
– The red suit is more or less a totem, and by that I mean that each Santa dresses in red, but it's not the same red suit. Or at least it doesn't appear to be.
– Reindeer. Apparently this is, to a certain degree, a true story. 'Santa' did use reindeer to pull his sleigh at one point in time. They didn't fly however, and it was only limited to the extreme northern (and southern) regions of the world. It seems as though there are several sleighs scattered through out the world, but this isn't completely clear from the text.
– Elves. False, and yet… true. There are no 'tiny' people working in a shop making toys, they don't have pointy ears and they don't dress in green overalls. There are however a number of people around the world that are recruited to help 'Santa' distribute the toys. Where those toys come from isn't made clear in the texts I have.
– Santa isn't a single person but rather a series of people spread out over the years, think of it as a title handed down from generation to generation. However, only once has it actually passed from one family member to another (father to grandson).
– The one and only time it was past down and stayed in a family like was Babbo Natale to Befana Natale. Why it skipped the son and went to the grandson isn't clear from the text but a couple assumptions can be made. Since there is little to know mention of Babbo's son after a certain point it's assumed (by this researcher) that he either died or became excommunicated from the family. The other option is that he was simple to old to be chosen as it appears that Babbo has his son at an early age meaning that by the time he 'retired' from being Santa the son was too old.
– To date no females have been chosen as Santa. It's not made clear as to why and there are no rules or remarks in the texts specifically forbidding or banning females from being Santa. From some ancillary texts I have in my possession it is hinted that at least one female was chosen but is referred to in the history text as 'he' in order to avoid singling her out.
There is much more work to be done regarding the story and legend of Santa, including attempting to acquire the remaining texts and translating them. Sadly many are either lost or scattered through time in an effort to hide them from the world at large. The name and term Santa Claus has come to mean so much more than one person, it is an ideal. And one that I completely understand needs to be protected and safeguarded. With that said however, the Society of Anonymous and Near-Sighted Toy Accumulators have a strong desire to know the truth and have funded me with a quite generous grant to discover the truth. I'm still not sure if I will tell them everything, but it has instilled in me a desire to discover the truths and stories behind the myths and legends.
Who knows, maybe one day I will actually get to met a Santa. One can hope.