The modern Santa is based upon the holy bishop of Myra, St. Nicholas - you knew that of course - or at least, you should have known it if you are a Catholic of European descent. The only fake Santas out there are the married ones, BTW. That is a very creepy, Protestant innovation - Protestantism is the mother of secularism, but I digress.
So anyway. 'Tis the Eve o' St. Nicholas and kids should be very excited, because Christmas is coming and they have a Saint - a Santa in heaven to protect them.
That said, kids - and some parents - always want to know why, or how, Santa flies. Is it levitation? Bilocation? Is it a ghostly apparition?
Kind of. Modern Santas fly through the air with a sleigh and reindeer - but that image is more closely related to myth, based on legends from the life of Santa Nicholas. When we study the iconography of Santa Nicholas, we realize that he not only levitated and bilocated, he also miraculously appeared to those he helped. Modern people who no longer believe in miracles dismiss that stuff and confuse miraculous with magic. That is a very Protestant idea adopted by secularists and materialists. Kids know that.
But anyway - that's why modern Santas fly - early on, an artist twisted the iconography of the real Santa to invent a new mythology as well as to deny the supernatural. When the real Santa Nicholas is shown flying, levitating, biolocating - it is something mystical and supernatural - not to be confused with magical and secular. It is a mystery as to how and why the saints have levitated, bilocated, or appeared to those who seek their aid in prayer. Kids know that, they don't have to explain it. They know God lifts up the saints, they know God works miracles through the intercession of the saints, they know heavenly beings are weightless and not constricted by matter, they know about invisible stuff, and they know that sometimes stuff just appears.
Kids know a lot.
So. You may not understand it or be able to explain it, but Santa Nicholas does all of that stuff. While on earth he levitated and bilocated, and now in heaven he appears, or simply acts invisibly. Which explains why most modern artists paint Santa the way they do - as I said earlier, they're just imitating the iconography of Santa Nicholas to enchant kids and sell stuff, but the joke is on them, because poor Protestant and secular children will eventually figure it all out and become Catholic when they grow up.
William Holbrook Beard’s oil painting “Santa Claus” from around 1862.
This is one of the finer examples of a modern interpretation
of the miracles of S. Nicholas. The giving of the dowries
and the rescue of the sailors may have inspired
this example. Happy Eve of St. Nicholas!