Miracle on 34th Street - Summary

Miracle on 34th Street is one of the most popular Christmas movies of all time. In this story behind the movie, find out that Santa Claus is based on an actual person - the Bishop of Myra, Saint Nicholas.

In the movie, Kris Kringle (Edmund Gwenn) is not happy with the person (Percy Helton) assigned to play Santa. There needs to be a Santa Claus for the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Kris complains to the parade director Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara). She persuades Kris to take the bad actor’s place. He does a great job in the parade so he is then hired as the Santa for Macy's flagship New York City store on 34th Street.

Fred Gailey (John Payne), Doris's neighbor, takes her second grade daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) to see Kris. Doris raises her daughter not to believe in fairy tales. Doris does not believe in Santa Claus and thinks her daughter should not either. Her lack of faith is shaken when she sees Kris conversing in Dutch with an adopted girl who does not know English. Each country develops its own unique holiday gift-giver; Dutch settlers in America share their Sinterklaas that non-Dutch speakers mispronounce as Santa Claus. Doris asks Kris to tell Susan that he is not really Santa Claus, but Kris insists he is.

The real Santa Claus is Saint Nicholas of Myra. Nicholas’ wealthy parents die when he is just a boy and legend says he wants to share the money his parents leave him. Wanting his gifts to be anonymous, legend says Nicholas throws gold coins into open windows of houses or down chimneys. Some of the coins supposedly land in socks drying by the fire.

Travel back in time to meet the real man that the legend is based on. Saint Nicholas of Bari is kind to children, protects sailors, and gives generously of himself and his material possessions. The Catholic Church makes Nicholas a saint by and his feast day is celebrated on the anniversary of his death: December 6.

Compare images of Saint Nicholas to the pictures of modern Santa Claus. Different from the saint, Santa Claus is generally depicted as a portly, joyous, full-bearded man. Authors Clement Moore and Thomas Nast are responsible for creating the image of Santa Claus as fat and jolly.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Nov 01, 2006

Updated Last Revision: Oct 12, 2015

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Miracle on 34th Street" AwesomeStories.com. Nov 01, 2006. May 26, 2020.
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