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Hmmm Squad Santa Special


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Was the image of Santa Claus really created by Coca-Cola? How come St Nicholas, a Middle-Eastern saint, is supposed to live in Lapland with elves and reindeer? Who is this freaky demonic Krampus figure that some Europeans have hanging around with him, and how does he fit into things? The roots of our cuddley, familiar Father Christmas may be stranger and more ancient than many realise...

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Hmmm Squad Santa Special

  1. 1. MerryChistmas ‘n’ That
  2. 2. Secret Santa...• Most Christmas motifs have their roots in some kind of folk tradition or practice, but are trotted out every year with little awareness of their origins.• Note how every time a Hollywood film tries to meddle with Christmas folklore, a new generation takes on the previous one‟s traditions and symbols in a superficial fashion and proceeds to „update‟ them for „modern times‟ - usually resulting a massively surreal mishmash of nonsensical, ill- fitting elements that they then have to try to force some kind of sense into. (Santa Claus the Movie, The Santa Clause, Fred Claus etc.)• But this doesn‟t just happen in films – it happens in society in general. When we look at other cultures‟ rituals and traditions they often look utterly baffling, alien, and relentlessly oddball, and you wonder how they ever came up with that. Well, Santa Claus is a case in point. How would you explain Him and his world, in all its glorious absurd detail, to an alien?
  3. 3. Myth 1 # Coca-Cola invented Santa ClausCoca-Cola‟s Santa first appeared in 1931, and undoubtedly had a hand in making that the standard image of Him – but the character had already evolved to look like that, often (but not always) portrayed in red and white. 1931 Haddon Sundblom 1955 First Coca-Cola Santa Haddon Sundblom
  4. 4. One of the earliest known portrayals of what is recognisably “our” Santa was by German-born illustrator Thomas Nast in around 1869. ca 1869 1881 Thomas Nast Thomas Nast Santa Claus and his Harpers Weekly Works
  5. 5. Postcards ca1900 1908 19251905 E. Boyd Smith N. C. WyethCarl Stetson Santa Claus and All Old KrisCrawford About Him The Country Gentleman
  6. 6. 1922 1925 1939Norman Rockwell J. C. Leyendecker Norman Rockwell
  7. 7. Sante Claus• This image (Nast‟s pictures in particular) The were heavily influenced by two Childrens anonymous poems – one poem from the Friend, 1821 Children’s Friend in 1821 which had "Sante Claus" arriving from the North in a sleigh with a flying reindeer, rewarding good behaviour with educational toys and punishing bad by leaving birch rods to beat kids with.• The other poem, more famous 1848 T. C. Boyd A Visit from Saint Nicholas today, was A Visit from St Nicholas in 1823 – now also known as The Night Before Christmas, which has a full description of “jolly old elf” St Nicholas, his reindeer and his nocturnal activities. 1862 F. O. C. Darley A Visit from Saint Nicholas
  8. 8. Myth #2 – Santa Claus is DutchThese were in turn influenced by the work of Washington Irving who, as a member of the New York Historical Society, wrote Knickerbockers History of New York – a fictional satirical history of New York which had numerous references to a jolly St Nicholas character, portrayed as Dutch burgher with a clay pipe.It said the first Dutch immigrant ship had a figurehead of St. Nicholas, that St Nicholas Day was observed in the colony, that the first church was dedicated to him, and that St. Nicholas comes down chimneys to bring gifts, but it wasn‟t meant to be taken seriously - however, there is some truth to it - St Nicholas was an important figure to many European immigrants and the Society adopted St Nicholas as their patron saint in the first place to honour New York‟s Dutch origins.
  9. 9. Myth # 3 – Our Santa is just St Nicholas • The real St Nicholas was a 4th Century Bishop from Myra, an area now part of modern Day Turkey. His feast day was celebrated in the medieval church as December 6. He may have attended the Council of Nicea, and there are lots of stories surrounding him as a gift-giver and protector of children. • The most famous has him hearing of a man who could not afford the dowries for his three daughters, with the result that he intended - regretfully - to send them to the brothel to work. St Nicholas saves them from this fate by throwing three bags of gold through their window at night.
  10. 10. So is that it?• Was all that Lapland/Reindeer/Elves/Flying Sleigh/Stockings by the chimney stuff just made up?• No – a lot of older traditions seem to bear a striking resemblance to our modern Santa – it looks like a lot of pagan trappings were absorbed by Him along the way...
  11. 11. Norse Gods: Odin Odin was sometimes recorded, at the native Germanic holiday of Yule, as leading a great hunting party through the sky. Odin was referred to by many names in Skaldic poetry, some of which describe his appearance or functions. These include Síðgrani, Síðskeggr, Langbarðr, (all meaning "long beard") and Jólnir ("Yule figure"). According to some traditions, children would place their boots, filled with carrots, straw, or sugar, near the chimney for Odins flying horse, Sleipnir, to eat. Odin would then reward those children for their kindness by replacing Sleipnirs food with gifts or candy.Georg von Rosen - Oden som vandringsman1886 (Odin, the Wanderer)
  12. 12. Norse Gods: Thor "Thor was the god of the peasants and the common people. He was represented as an eld-erly man, jovial and friendly, of heavy build, with a long white beard. His element was the fire, his color red. The rumble and roar of thunder were said to be caused by the rolling of his chariot, for he alone among the gods never rode on horse-back but drove in a chariot drawn by two white goats called Cracker and Gnasher. He was said to live in the North-land where he had his palace among icebergs. The fireplace in every home was especially"Thor was fighting the giants of ice and snow, sacred to him, and he was said to come downand thus became the Yule-god. He was said to live through the chimney into his element, the fire."in the "Northland" where he had his palace among - -Francis X. Weiser,icebergs. By our pagan forefathers he was Handbook of Christian Feasts and Customsconsidered as the cheerful and friendly god, (New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, Inc., 1958)never harming the humans but rather helping andprotecting them. The fireplace in every home wasespecially sacred to him, and he was said to comedown through the chimney into his element, thefire."-(Guerber, H.A. Myths of Northern Lands.New York: American Book Company, 1895, p. 61)
  13. 13. Yule/Father ChristmasIn Scandinavian and Germanic countries, the festival of Yule wascelebrated at the winter solstice with a wild hunt and a bountifulfeast and is tied to traditions such as the Yule log, the Yule goator boar. With Christianisation many Yule traditions merged withChristmas festivities. The folkloric figure of Yule (aka FatherChristmas) certainly predates the modern Coca-Cola Santa, andhas the distinct whiff of a pagan green-man style nature spiritabout him, as alluded to in Dickens’ Christmas Carol with theGhost of Christmas Present.
  14. 14. Pagan Nature SpiritsThe figure of Yule was in turn almost certainly derived from the kind of wild nature spirits that inhabit pagan traditions across Europe. There are echoes of the Santa figure in the furry, bearded, wilderness dwelling, magical wild-men figures of the middle ages, as well as linking with wild, untamed personifications of nature and fertility such as the “green man”, Dionysus and Pan – such figures, were of course, demonised in medieval times as the very image of the devil.
  15. 15. KrampusWhich is why “Krampus” looks so alarming.In many countries St Nicholas (or Sinterklaas) retains the form of a saintly Bishop, but is accompanied by various “dark helpers” – in some Alpine countries (notably Bavaria) the figure of Krampus is a frightening-looking wild-man/goat-man figure and direct hang-over from pagan Yule festivities that was incorporated into Christian celebrations around the 17 th century.Krampus is the dark side of St Nicholas – where he brings kindness, blessings and gifts for good children, Krampus takes children away in his sack to be punished – Our Santa is almost like an amalgam of the priestly St Nicholas and the pagan beast-man of Krampus – and, in a way, very possibly is. Variations on Santa‟s “dark helpers” include the decidedly racist “Black Peter” of Belgium/Netherlands
  16. 16. Krampus
  17. 17. "In the English-speaking countries, "What may surprise you is thatwe combined Santa and his helpers Santa Claus has not always been(Krampus and Black Peter) into a a jolly ole elf, or even human.composite which arrives at In fact, he has been depictedChristmas time to stuff the stockings as an evil gnome as well as aand reward children who have been goat."naughty and nice. But the pagan - Will the Real Santa Claus Pleasehistory shows that St. Nicholas is a Stand Up? The Many Faces ofvastly more complex being... Santa“This ‘Yuletide’ spirit-being Denise Alvaradois a duality. Part of him isthe kindly priest in flowing robes "Ol Saint Nick as it turns outand part of him is the evil fiend has a bunch of demonic buddies.with slashing teeth and claws." You wouldnt know it from the- The Antinoopolis Gayzette, Meet Christian American Coca ColaSanta’s Helpers – Krampus and interpretation of ChristmasAntinous/Apollo but theres some really disturbing stories surrounding that special time of the year..." - Monster Brains Presents... Krampus! Aeron Alfrey
  18. 18. "And, of course, there’s Santa Claus.As the ancient beast-god of old,he continues to bring bounty and promiseto us each year. There are gods, religions,nations and even hominid species that haverisen and fallen - while he somehow persists.No wonder he winks as he sips his Coca-Cola."- The Last Wild Man by PHYLLIS SIEFKER FT 118 - January 2000 Fortean Times