Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry and bright

A long time ago, a bright star appeared in the sky and drifted east, or at least from the east, for a long time before reaching a roman town on the eastern side of the Mediterranean, where it stopped. Three kings followed the star, and they were led to where a baby was born, on Christmas. They gave the baby gifts and the baby grew up to become Jesus. He was killed at a young age and his body was claimed by God. Of course, different people will believe different parts of this story, and the exact details are after all pretty vague, so I can't talk much more about the origin of Christmas, except to say that Christ could have been born around March or April, not December or January.

I am stuck with talking about Santa Claus.

What is the origin of Santa Claus? I am going to start by saying Santa Claus used to be called Saint Nicholas. The dutch version of Santa Claus, described in an earlier article, is also sometimes called Sint Nicolaas by the Dutch, which means the two may have the same origin.

I have read an article on the Internet that claims Saint Nicholas was a kind saint who gave gifts and lived in the roman Middle East, a little while after Jesus was born. I do not think this is truth, however, the truth is undoubtedly very similar. This does not tell us very much about what Santa Claus looks like, though. There are three sources that tell us this.

The first one is poems. There were a lot of poems written about Santa. A very old poem by Clement Moore does indeed describe Saint Nicholas as plump, as well as naming the reindeer and mentioning the elves, but there were details missed by Clement Moore, such as the elves making gifts at the north pole. These details were invented by the media later on.

Humiliatingly enough, our exact picture of Santa Claus came from ads! That's right, the picture of a big fat guy with glasses comes almost completely from Cola ads in the supermarket! I must admit the description came from Clement Moore and other writers of Christmas poems, but Clement Moore did not draw any pictures, and the Cola industry did!

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