As a result of the Reformation there was a backlash against Saint Nicholas myths. In 1651 the Colonial Massachusetts Legislature pass a law that said -- "Whosoever shall be found observing any such day as Christmass...either by forbearing labor, feasting, or in any other way...every such person so offending shall pay a fine for each offense of five shillings to the county." That law remained in force till about 1681.

If you reviewed the information under "Origins" you will know that the move to North America was brought about by the Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (New York). Their "Sinterklaas" (the name is a corruption of Saint Nikolaas) became Santa Claus (the name is a North American corruption) as the years went by. In 1809 Washington Irving described him as an eflin Dutch Burgher (not a saint) and the new image began to take shape.

In 1822 a very famous poem was penned: "A Visit From St. Nick". Although there is now controversy over authorship, it was first published anonymously in the New York Troy Sentinel December 23, 1823. Traditionally the poem is attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, 1779-1863. He was said to have written it for his family on Christmas Eve of 1822, during a sleigh-ride home from the village of Greenwich. He drew inspiration for St. Nick from the roly-poly Dutchman who drove his sleigh that day. In fairness, the alternative author could have been Henry Livingston Jr., whose other light verse resembles the famous poem. Either way the poem helped put a solid base under the Santa Claus legend.