**We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas,
and a HAPPY NEW YEAR**
Y’know it is kind of stupid, but there was this one book that I read as a kid. I think it was called ‘Where, Oh Where is Huggle Buggle Bear?’ or something on those lines. It was great. Teddy Bears, kids with candies, imaginary streets – all of it. It is still etched in the back of my head, I guess. Okay, so there was this one scene where I distinctly remember the bears singing CHRISTMAS CAROLS. From “Angels from the Realms of Glory” to “Away in a Manger” to “Jingle Bells”, I read them and sang them all. Ohhh, what a splendid feeling it is. The chorus, the rhymes, the feast, the cakes, the goodies, the chocolates – CHRISTMAS is indeed one of my favourite festivals of the year.
Okay, so yeah – I am sure all of us loved SANTA CLAUS as kids, and wish for him to be at our doorsteps. At least, I did. Which is why, I decided to enlighten the world about some outlandish facts that you did not know about the jolly old elf with a bizarre past.
So, how did the jolly, bearded North Pole resident evolve into the cultural icon we know today? Here are some interesting facts about his evolution that will ensure you don’t look at Santa the same way again:
(Just in case you want to know the COCA-COLA link to Santa, scroll down right to the last point )
1) Santa isn’t fictional. He was kind of, REAL.
The original Santa Claus was thought to be St. Nicholas, the bishop of Myra, from Patras in Turkey.
Born around the year A.D 280, he was particularly wealthy, and gave gifts to children around the feast of Yuletide, which we now call Christmas.
Later accounts of St. Nicholas portray him as a kind hearted benefactor, who almost certainly lived in Russia and earned a name by paying the dowries of impoverished girls and handing out treats and coins to children — often leaving them in their shoes, set out at night for that very purpose.
2) His best-known gifts were given to keep girls from becoming prostitutes.
St. Nicholas was certainly extremely giving to those less fortunate, especially children — he had a habit of secretly leaving gold coins in people’s shoes, because he never wanted to be thanked.
But it may surprise you to learn what his three biggest presents were. A poor man had three daughters that he couldn’t marry off, so he was going to sell them into prostitution (like many still do – Meh!). The night before the first girl came of age, Nicholas tossed a bag of gold through the man’s window into the house. Boom! The first daughter had a dowry and could be married off. The same thing happened with the second daughter. When the third daughter came of age, the man waited up to see his benefactor, but Nicholas threw the third bag of gold down the chimney instead. Interesting, no? 🙂
3) Santa has different names in different countries.
Besides ‘St. Nicholas’, some other famous names include Sinter Klass (Dutch), Father Christmas (British), or Santa Claus (American).
I never knew this. GOSH. :O
4) Santa wears different clothes in different countries.
In England and the US, he wears red and white.
In some European countries, he was said to have worn a red or black bishop’s cloak with bishop hat,
and sometimes a long green furry robe.
People also claim to have seen him in Blue.
5) He spoke at a very young age.
When the baby who would become Saint Nicholas, who would be the primary inspiration for Santa Claus, exited his mother’s womb in 270 A.D., he immediately yelled “GOD BE GLORIFIED”, which while certainly amazing, must have also been kind of unnerving for those in the delivery room. LOL.
6) Santa was a bachelor until the late 1800’s.
The first mention of a spouse for Santa was in the 1849 short story, ‘A Christmas Legend’ by James Rees.
Over the next several years, the idea of Mrs. Claus found its way into several literary publications, like the Yale Literary Magazine and Harper’s Magazine. But it wasn’t until Katherine Lee Bates’ widely-circulated 1889 poem Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride that Santa’s wife was popularized (“Goody” is short for “Good Wife,” or “Mrs.”)
7) He doesn’t just like milk and cookies.
Things other countries leave out for Santa, according to Wikipedia:
” In Britain and Australia, he is sometimes given sherry or beer, and mince pies instead.
In Sweden and Norway, children leave rice porridge.
In Ireland, it is popular to give him Guinness or milk, along with Christmas Pudding or mince pies. “
If I were Santa, the United Kingdom and Australia would get all the presents. Hahaha. 😀
8) His bones leak a miracle juice called ‘manna’, that smells like rose-water.
There was a legend that St. Nicholas died in 343 A.D., and was buried in Myra, where he had been bishop. This didn’t stop him from helping people, though: Legend has that a clear, watery liquid would seep out of his bones, and it had miraculous powers. Bone juice! In the 11th century, sailors from Bari took all of Nicholas’ intact bones according to a vision they had where St. Nicholas, “Boy, I sure wish someone would take a portion of my bones to Bari for some reason.” (They left about half his skeleton, mostly fragments, which eventually ended up in a shrine in Venice.) However, that didn’t stop St. Nicholas; when the bones were entombed at Bari, a clear liquid oozed from the tomb itself, which people believed and believe is the same holy bone juice.
And as such, vials of such manna are still procured from the 11th century Basilica San Nicola church – by the clergymen on 6th December every year. Why 6th December? Read on.
9) Martin Luther King was who first proposed 24-25 December as the gift receiving day.
Saint Nicolas is said to have died on December 6, A.D. 342. December 6th is celebrated as his feast day, and in many countries this is the day he arrives with his presents and punishments. This tradition was particularly prevalent during the middle ages, until the movement of Reformation disputed the veneration of saints (instead of just Christ). But a few European countries still follow the same, even in modern times.
Martin Luther did it because the later suggested date would coincide with the birth date of Jesus Christ. This was an intentional move so as to focus the fervor and anticipation of the children on solely Christ, as opposed to the celebration of a single saint’s deeds.
10) Santa is only 200 years old. #NoPunIntended.
A Dutch tradition kept St. Nicholas’ story alive in the form of ‘Sinterklaas, like I have already mentioned above. The first anglicizing of the name to Santa Claus was in a story that appeared in a New York City newspaper in the year 1773. WHOA!
11) Santa Claus was ‘vegetarian’. Damn!
Considering I’m a carnivore, this is NOT good news. 😛 But hey Vegetarians, you’ve some awesome company, man.
Santa was a staunch opponent of cannibalism.
One of the many miracle stories that St. Nicholas has accumulated is the time when a supremely insane butcher lured three little kids into his shop, killed them, and then tried to sell their meat as ham. St. Nicholas, who happened to be wandering by, immediately saw that was not ham, and resurrected the three children, who probably became vegetarians.
12) Santa Claus’s reindeer is purely fiction – because Turkey doesn’t have any reindeer.
A company called The Lomen Company in the late 1800’s started it. The company had a campaign to promote reindeer herding in Alaska. Their poster showed reindeer from Norway, each hauling a sled with a Santa Claus on it.
Some say that Clement Moore’s 56-line poem, A Visit From Saint Nicholas — which is now more commonly referred to as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” —introduced and popularized many of Santa’s defining characteristics — chiefly, that he drove a sleigh guided by “eight tiny reindeer.”
Interestingly, the god, Odin rode a horse that had eight legs named Sleipnir. If you know what I mean.
13) There is a department store by the name ‘Santa’, which is a 120-year-old tradition.
In 1890, Massachusetts businessman James Edgar became the first Department store Santa. He is credited with coming up with the idea of dressing up in a Santa Claus costume as a marketing tool. Children from all over the state dragged their parents to Edgar’s small dry goods store in Brockton. Ingenious.
14) So yeah, Coca-Cola created the modern Mr. Claus. All hail the company.
The only reason Santa wears red and white is because the Coca-Cola company tells him to. Prior to 1931, Santa dressed in any color he linked — blue, green, brown, mauve, whatever. In 1931, though, Coca-Cola decided that they wanted to increase their sales to children. However, the law at the time did not allow advertisements showing children drinking Coca-Cola, so how about showing a friendlier Santa Claus, relaxing with a Coke served to him by children? – they figured. It was then that the artist Haddon Sundblom was assigned to come up with a new, more commercial Santa. Instead of Moore’s elf or Nast’s grumpy gnome, Sundblom came up with a large, jolly fellow in the well-known, bright red suit with white fur trim (the Coca-Cola colors).
Thus, the company issued a massive ad campaign that featured Santa in Coke’s red and white colors, and the damn thing was so prevalent that it effectively locked Santa’s fashion down from that point on. Together, Irving, Moore, Nast and Sundblom are largely responsible for the way we in America envision Santa Claus.
Cool, isn’t it? 😀 As Christmas approaches, children around the world have Santa on the brain. They’re anxiously wondering if they’ve been overly naughty or sufficiently nice, and eagerly daydreaming about their potential gift hauls.
And it feels so good to envision our very own SANTA in a totally different ‘avatar’.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, Folks. 🙂
This is your day. Jingle away. Quite literally.