Ho Ho Ho Santa Claus is coming to town!

Nov 19, 2021 | Blog | 0 commentaires

It is that time of the year again when there is magic in the air. Your dreams know no bound and you expect the best to unfold. It is not just lighting on the Christmas tree but something deep in your spirit that illuminates.

As you decorate your house for Christmas; hanging stockings and ornaments, a walk down memory lane to your childhood is inevitable. You recall the excitement as a child, eagerly waiting for Santa to bring gifts. The tales of Santa Claus is widely attributed to Saint Nicholas.

Saint Nicholas

Saint Nicholas of Myra was a European 4th Century Christian Bishop. He was known for his generosity and love for the poor and children. There are legends about Saint Nicholas that tell us about his extraordinary character and his kind and generous deeds.

In one legend, Saint Nicholas heard of a poor man with three daughters who did not have anything valuable to offer as dowry to future husbands. Due to poverty these daughters seemed destined to be sold into slavery. One night Saint Nicholas tossed through the open window a bag of gold on three different occasions. These gifts saved the girls. This started the custom of hanging stocking or putting shoes out to receive gifts from Saint Nicholas.

In Europe Saint Nicholas was deeply loved and revered for his compassion and countless miracles were attributed to his intercession.

The Dutch Colonist brought Saint Nicholas to America

It is believed that Dutch brought Saint Nicholas to the New Amsterdam or modern-day New York. Colonial Germans observed the feast of Saint Nicholas on the 6th of December.

In January 1809, Washington Irving joined the New-York Historical Society which promoted Saint Nicholas as the patron saint of both the society and New York. In the same year, he published a fiction Knickerbocker’s History of New York. In this satirical fiction, the jolly character of Saint Nicholas was portrayed as an elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe. This was considered as the origin of New Amsterdam Saint Nicholas legends.

Protestant reformation had removed Christmas as a holy season as it was seen inconsistent with gospel worship. The celebration of the holiday season witnessed rowdy, drunken mobs and public disorder. The workload having eased post-harvest season the workers and servants demanded largess and more from the upper class.

The perception of family altered as time changed and children were valued more than ever. Childhood began to be seen as a period of better protection, care, and education. Slowly holidays became subdued and people diverted their attention towards shops and home. Saint Nicholas also underwent some transformation with time.

Famous book & poem

In 1821, the first lithographed book in America, the Children’s Friend was published. This Santa Claus unlike saintly bishop arrived from the North in a sleigh with a flying reindeer. It was also the first to describe his arrival on Christmas Eve rather than the 6th of December. Santa Clause rewarded only good behaviour and left a long, black, birchen rod for parents to use to punish naughty ones.

A widely popular poem « A Visit from St. Nicholas » more commonly known as « The Night Before Christmas » published in 1823 poem has been attributed to Clement Clark Moor. This poem is responsible for boosting the image of Santa from the mid-nineteenth century till today. This poem introduced the practice of Christmas gift-giving in American tradition and Americanization of St. Nicholas.

Retro-Santa-Clause-Image Final

Cartoonist Thomas Nast

An American cartoonist, Thomas Nast, was the first to start drawing images of Santa for Harper’s in 1863. These illustrations of Santa Clause as a heavy set person, with flowing beard, fur garments, and clay pipe was inspired by the description in Washington Irving’s work. Along with the drawings he probably created the story that Santa Clause lives in North Pole.

Santa Claus and advertisements

Artists depicted Santa in many shapes, sizes, and colours. Nevertheless, popular illustrators by the end of the 1920s had created Santa’s life-size representation of a wearing fur-trimmed red suit. Santa in his red and white suit was seen in advertisements for White Rock Beverages in 1915 and later for ginger ale in 1923.

Advertising during Christmas was a vital part of Coca-Cola’s business process. The image of plump and friendly Santa was further popularized by Haddon Sundblom’s Coca-Cola campaign in 1931 for decades that followed. Haddon drew his inspiration from Clement’s The Night Before Christmas. The vivid account of Santa Claus as a « jolly old elf » dressed in fur goes down the chimney to give gifts to children was pivotal in creating modern Santa. This American Santa Clause image was used to endorse a wide range of consumer products everywhere.

Santa today

In our day we can e-mail Santa or track him online to know his whereabouts. Santa Claus may have come a long way from the stately bishop Saint Nicholas. The sight of Santa fills us with cheer so the essence of Saint Nicholas still lives on in his transformed image. Perhaps we could give Santa a hand and show kindness and share with the needy just like Saint Nicholas.

Happy Christmas everyone!!