11 July

Santa Claus is coming to town

Santa Claus started in America in the 1700s and went viral when Clement Moore’s “Night Before Christmas” was published in 1823.[1] The name is a corruption of Sinterklaas but the actual character blends the Dutch guy, the English Father Christmas and modern American consumer culture. (It is alleged that his appearance stems from a Coke ad in 1931 but the mythos was well established by then and there are plenty of images of a very familiar Santa that predate the famous picture of him drinking Coca Cola.)[2]

Santa Claus lives at the North Pole where he has a toyshop staffed with elves who make the toys he gives to children around the globe.[3] On the night of Christmas Eve, he travels round the world in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and he goes down chimneys of houses to deliver presents (into stockings in some places, and typically into pillow slips called Santa sacks in Australia). This is clearly impossible and is achieved with magic.

Since Santa Claus is mostly secular, he’s suitable for everyone with a degree of flexibility but not for strict non-Christians who can’t ignore his saintly bishop roots, nor for strict actual Christians who think he has moved too far away from his saintly bishop roots. The same goes for elves, toyshops, stockings, reindeer and present-laden sleighs.[4]

11 jul 2016.jpg
The original stocking stuffer.

[1] The poem calls him St Nick but describes him physically as the Santa we picture today except that he was very small: “a right jolly old elf” with “miniature reindeer” (and he smoked a pipe, which politically correct modern Santas never do).

[2] Including a cover from the “Saturday Evening Post” in 1925.

[3] Although predominantly to children of Western Christian cultural roots.

[4] Sleighs without gifts can be considered to be secular snömys.

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