santa claus changing design
santa claus changing design santa claus changing design
dec 25, 2009
santa claus changing design


the story and image of santa claus begins with nicolas, born during
the third century
in
the then greek village of patara. raised to be a
devout christian, he used his inheritance
from his parents to assist
the needy, the sick and suffering and was made bishop of myra
for his
work. he became known for his generosity and helping those in need. st.
nicholas became
the patron saint of russia where he was known for his
red cape, flowing white beard and
bishop’s mitre.
today, the christian bishop’s image has become that of a red-suited, bearded,
holly old man. the symbol of the festive holiday season and commercial story.

saint nicholas

first europeans to go to the new world, brought st. nicholas.
vikings dedicated a cathedral to him in greenland and columbus named the haitian port
after him on december 6th, 1492. however, during the 16th century protestant reformation,
the acceptance of st. nicholas was difficult as people did not have strong views of saints.
however, in england, where religious folk traditions were altered st. nicolas was well-accepted
and puritan christians began what has now become a more trendy, secular christmas observance.


odin and sleipner, his eight-legged horse

in germanic traditions, the norse pagan god odin has been said to have contributed to
some parts of the appearance of santa claus / father christmas. during the germanic holiday,
yule, odin would lead a hunt through the sky on his eight legged horse sleipner –
today’s eight reindeer and their ability to fly are said to have been derived from this tale.

children would place their boots filled with straw, carrots or sugar for sleipner, and their
kindness and good deeds would be rewarded by odin with gifts.


odin, norse pagan god with ravens by tudor humphries


sinter klaas and zwarte piet

similarly, there is also the dutch sinterklaas and his assistant zwarte piet.
dutch children would leave their wooden shoes by the fireplace and children would be given
treats for their good behaviour, while zwarte piet would give coal to those who misbehaved.
dutch colonists brought this tradition with them to america in the 17th century, where the
anglican name of santa clause emerged.


image of saint nicolas disciplining a misbehaved child


st. nicolas and the yule goat

around the same time as the dutch, scandinavian countries had st. nicolas bringer of gifts
who came around with a yule goat. within nordic folklore, an elf called tomte or nisse
was also associated with the tradition of christmas.


the ghost of christmas past from charles dickens’ ‘a christmas carol’ resembles the folklore image of father christmas
who had traditionally dressed in a green robe

saint nicholas and sinter klaas were combined with the british version of father christmas
to become santa claus. the 17th century version appeared wearing a green, fur-lined robe
delivering good cheer to those around him.


santa visiting union civil war camp, earliest published image of santa
drawing of santa claus in the january 3rd, 1983 issue of harper’s bazaar

image by thomas nast

thomas nast of harper’s bazaar has been credited with creating the popular image of santa claus
which appeared in the publication’s weekly newspaper between 1863 – 1865. first introduced by
nast during the civil war, the image of santa claus continued to evolve over the years.


christmas spread in harper’s bazaar by thomas nast


merry old santa claus in harper’s bazaar
image by thomas nast


image courtesy of coca cola

coca cola is responsible for the commercialization of santa claus there after.
the company was in need of a way to sell their cold drinks during the cold season and wanted
to find a way in which to associate their product with the holiday season.
illustrator haddon sunblom began creating the images for coca cola, beginning in 1931
and he would continue to create santa paintings for the company until 1964.


image courtesy of coca cola


image courtesy of coca cola


image courtesy of coca cola

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