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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

WHO INVENTED SANTA CLAUS?

I like to equate Santa Claus to God.  (This painting is available at Oil Painting Factory.)  Others have too.  Here is an almost too apologetic posting in the Huffington Post.  I go one step further by expressing bewilderment that, while we all once believed in Santa Claus, perhaps 90% of us (not me, but the world at large) continue to have faith in something called God.  Why have 10% of us (this includes me) come to a conclusion that, while Santa Claus is a merry deception, by all available evidence, God, too, is a truly brilliant prevarication that continues to control the mind of most.  But this is Christmas, so let me not go there today.  For more details refer to my chapter 5 of SIMPLE SOLUTIONS for Humanity.

In any case, there continues to be a link between these two, as the origin of Santa Claus traces back to the Nordic God Odin, one of his many sons, incidentally, being thunder god Thor (which you saw, twice, in those recent Marvel films--but had eight inaccuracies).  Then, along came Sinterklaa (right), a Dutch saint who:
  • Rode a white horse on rooftops, while Odin used a grey horse.
  • Gave chocolate letters to children, similar to Odin, who provided letters of wisdom.
  • Had mischievous helpers who listened at chimneys to determine if a child was good or bad, while Odin used two black ravens who reported on subjects.

Sinterklaas somehow segued into Saint Nicholas (left) patron saint of children, who as a Greek Bishop of the 4th Century in Turkey, certainly dressed like Santa.  You have to excuse me, but the direct connections are, like most things biblical, mythically convenient.

Those countries surrounding the Netherlands celebrate this day around December 5, which is the Eve of St. Nicholas, but Greece has Christmas on December 25, and so does Turkey, with Noel Baba (right)

In the U.S., the beginning of this all can be traced to an 1823 poem by Clement Clarke Moore, "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."  Thomas Nast was, perhaps, most influential for the look of Santa and illustrated this poem in 1881.


Lyman Frank Baum became more famous for "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," but he also wrote 'The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" in 1902.  There was the 1934 song, "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," where there were elves and flying reindeers.   Around this timeframe, Coco-Cola gained some notoriety by attaining urban legend status for inventing Santa.  

The Salvation Army early on used someone in a Santa Claus outfit to tinkle the bells.  Mrs. Claus only made an entry in the 50's through "Mrs. Santa Claus."  Spinoffs have included Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, by Gene Autry.  The largest gathering of Santas occurred in Northern Ireland in 2007, with 12,965:


The unofficial Santa Claus Village is in Finland, in the Arctic Circle.  Over the years, 8 million letters have been received from 198 countries, most from Great Britain, Poland and Japan.

Sure there is controversy and maybe even deception, but this is Christmas, so let us enjoy the Holiday Season.  Thank you Santa Claus.


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