Thomas Nast popularized the contemporary image of Santa Claus through his publications in "Harpers Weekly," first using Santa Claus to honor the sacrifices made by the Union soldiers and their families during the Civil War. Nast drew influence from the German image of Saint Nicholas to create his depiction of Santa. "Merry Old Santa Claus" shows a jolly Santa, a bag of toys on his back and gifts under his left arm, smoking a long pipe. Garbed in his Santa suit with holly in his hat, he looks towards the viewer with a smile on his face.

Merry Old Santa Claus
Thomas Nast
Harper’s Weekly, January 1, 1881