These days, the big man in red has many names, Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, and Father Christmas to name a few. In fact, the British almost always refer to him with the title of Father Christmas, which made me wonder why the different emphasis than what most people use in the United States.
It is all a bit confusing, because the figure we now call Santa Claus actually comes from the Dutch character Sinterklaas. In doing some digging, it turns out that the British started out with “Father Christmas” as a kindly old man who personified feasting and revelry, and did not necessarily give presents.
This eventually merged with Sinterklass/St. Nicholas, who are more known for their gift-giving tendencies. So what we really know today as Santa Claus is the merger of hundreds of years of traditions into a single figure.