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Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'

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Subject: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 02:13 PM

A few years ago, I came upon a wonderful little book in my public library called Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men by Phyllis Siefker, in which she makes the following arguments:

1) Contrary to popular American Folklore, the American version of Santa Claus was not imported by the Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (Later, New York). Those settlers were Protestant, and wouldn't have touched a saint with a ten foot pole, unless maybe they wanted to beat him up with it... The association of "Saint Nicholas" with the American Dutch came about in the aftermath of the Revolution, when different social-political clubs rose up centered around various "home" cultures... the Scottish settlers had the "Saint Andrews" society, the Welsh, "Saint David's"... and the Duch had "Saint Nicholas's"

2) That the first appearance on American soil of a jovial, noise-making, raucus, midnight visitor who distributed gifts to children (if they'd been good, that is) was brought in by the German settlers to Pensylvania, in the figure of Pelznichol (or "Furry Nicholas")

3) that if you trace the various cultural influences that created Pelznichol back to their source, you would find the ancient Pagan figure of the Wild Man -- the personification in human form of the wild forces of Nature itself -- capable of emmense generosity and bounty, but also of terrible, terrifying power. And indeed, Ms. Siefker recounts some of the earliest Christmas traditions and beliefs that seem to us to belong more in the season of Halloween than Christmas: That if the children were good, they would be given toys and treats, but if they were bad, they'd be put into that great sack, and carried away until next Christmas, or worse -- eaten. (When I first read the discriptions of these practices, I was horrified -- but then I remembered how much modern kids enjoy being scared by monsters at Halloween, and I imagine that the kids of our ancestors were not much different).

In any case, this all got me thinking: If "Santa Claus" is really a personification of Nature itself, it puts a whole new spin on the Naughty vs. Nice thing.

So "Santa Claus" really can see you when you're sleeping, and knows when you're awake, because he is everywhere the wind blows -- in the rocks and rivers, and laughing in the branches of the trees. But, really, I dont think he cares so much whether or not you cry or pout or shout now and then, but whether you're kind, and generous, and of good humor in the face of adversity, whether or not, in other words, you participate in the cycle of give and take or whether you try and stop the cycle by keeping everything for yourself...

So, like that Fraggle Rock* song says:

"When it's nice and bright,
And it brings delight,
Let your heart choose right,
Gotta pass it on.

When it rolls real good,
Like a rollie should,
Then it's understood,
Gonna pass it on."

*(From Episode 76 -- The Pefect Blue Rollie, first aired February 17, 1986, written by David Young)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 02:43 PM

Absolutely beautiful, CU! Sort of a wintery green man. Thank you so much.

kat


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 02:53 PM

Yes -- a furry green man.

And speaking of "Green Men", she also points to that commerical icon "The Jolly Green Giant" as a fellow descendant of the Wild Man: The personificaton of the bounty of the Earth (Note that he, too, says: "Ho, ho, ho!") ::Mischievous Grin::


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 02:55 PM

LOL...I knew I liked him for some reason! "Furry" green man somehow conjures up memories of back East mold and mildew in my house...nature's bounty?!**BG**


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 04:15 PM

"Furry" green man somehow conjures up memories of back East mold and mildew in my house...nature's bounty?!**BG**

Well, from the mold's point of view, sure! Why Not? Don't they have a right to bountiful merriment, too? ;-)

Though, actually, the "furry" in this case refers to animal furs, as in that line from "A Visit From Saint Nicholas":

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot

The "Pelz" in Pelznichol stems from the same root as "pelt".


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: katlaughing
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 04:27 PM

Yeah, I know, was just free-associating there fur for a minute.*bg* And, of course all the mold and mildew deserves merriment, just not on my walls and in my closets! Ho, ho, ho...bah

                              
~~~~~~~~~~~!!
))))))))))))))))))

hummmmmmmmmbug

Really, I love this green man in the winter idea. Thanks, again.:-)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Penny S.
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 06:06 PM

But they do have St Nicholas in the Netherlands, with a rather odd dark creature called Black Peter, I think. So there is a connection with the Dutch. He goes round in a bishop's gear.

Whereas Father Christmas, as portrayed in Dickens, at anyrate, is a very pagan character, in voluminous green robes, much akin to the Green Knight, and jolly, but overwhelming. So there is something there of the Green Man idea.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Mudlark
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 06:44 PM

Thanks, CU, for a different and pleasing aspect of what was surely a pagan holiday long before saints hit the scene. I've always loved the idea of The Green Man. Having a wintery version is perfect.

And the old idea of Black Peter, associated w/St. Nick, is in keeping, as well: good and bad, treats and tricks, cool or coal...those pagans had a firm hold on reality!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Raedwulf
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 07:24 PM

Well, the green of Dickens was the normal colour, till Coca-cola invented the red & white ho-ho-ho variety of Santa Claus somwhere round the tail end of the 19thC (@1880ish, IIRC).

More to the point, as any fule kno (sic), most of the 'christmas' traditions are christian theft from paganism - "we can't stamp their faith out so we'll just pinch all their symbolism & justify it as best we can..."

The Yule tree, the Yule log, the date (contrary to the suggestion in another thread, I have read somewhere that jc's birthdays is actually proven to be September (not April), according to Roman census records), & so on & so forth; none of 'em are christian at all.

I was rather amused by a piece on the BBC website concerning an argument in Canada where a 'christmas' tree was (allegedly) renamed by the city council as a 'holiday' tree so as not to offend anyone. Of course, this offended practically everyone... *bg* The irony, inevitably, is that it's not a 'christmas' tree at all, but blatant pagan symbolism...

Waes thu hael & a happy Yule!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 10:17 PM

From Penny:

But they do have St Nicholas in the Netherlands, with a rather odd dark creature called Black Peter, I think. So there is a connection with the Dutch. He goes round in a bishop's gear.

Yes, there is. For the Catholic Dutch, Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of their homeland... But those people weren't the ones who emigrated to the Americas, so they weren't the source of the American version of Santa Claus. Besides, the old Dutch version of Saint Nicholas has about as much jollity in him as that Dickens schoolmaster, Creakle. However:

with a rather odd dark creature called Black Peter

Ms. Siefker sees many more similarities between this figure and our modern "Santa Claus" than between "Santa" and Nicholas. After all, he's the one that has a sack slung across his back, and leaps around laughing madly and making funny faces to scare the children. Because the person playing "Black Pete" blackened his face with burnt cork, and often had a chain about his neck held onto by the Saint, some have interpreted him as being the African slave owned by the historical Nicholas who was later canonized.

But she points out numerous bits of evidence that he's the representation of the Wild Man as Smith, whose face is blackened with soot because he tends the Fires of Life -- and that this is the reason Morris dancers blacken their faces with cork (a practice that most probably went back much further in time than the Christian defeat of the Moors), and is also the source of the superstitian that it's good luck to shake hands with a chimney sweep.

(P. L. Travers, who wrote the Mary Poppins books, was/is also a student in Pre-Christian European religious beliefs, and she gave Mary Poppins many Goddess attributes -- including a chimney sweep/trickster for a beau).

...And as I'm writing this, I've been getting ideas for how to make an alternative "Santa Claus" to stick on my front lawn next year... as an antidote to all those ubiquitous red-and-white plastic Santas...

Hmmm: A patchwork / rag & tatter coat of mostly greens and goldy-browns (Cut from plastic garbage bags, perhaps?), with a head and face carved from a big foam rubber ball, with a beard and hair made from nylon rope, and a wreath of holly around his head (I'm thinking this has to be impervious to weather if it's to be out on my front lawn for a while) and....

Yeah, I think this is doable! :::Big Grin:::


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 11:24 PM

I have reproduced, on some of my cards. a full page picture of "Old King Christmas" from the Canadian Illustrated News, Dec. 23, 1876. He is shown as a rather regal fellow, well-nourished but not fat, a long staff in hir right hand and a charger filled with fruit in his left, with two attractive, apparently female young attendants, one holding plum pudding and other foods. A handsome turkey stands by the left foot of King Christmas (surely a Canadian substitute for the English goose).
I am trying to find out who created the current fat, red-robed Santa Claus, the candidate for an apoplectic stroke, from the various contributing figures, King Christmas, Father Christmas, the large elf shown by Nast, and St. Nick (someone has suggested a Coca-Cola illustration, but I don't know).
The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," by C. C. Moore, printed in a little paperback booklet (1823), was illustrated by the Dutch printer Onderdonk. An elf was shown driving the sleigh. The Dutch associations first came forward from his illustrations. In 1860, Nast printed an illustration of a large, jolly old elf in Harper's Weekly. I have not seen this illustration.
Some of the story here: www.christmas.com/pe/1379: First Santa

CapriUni is correct, St. Nick didn't get to North America until the floods of immigrants came after the American Revolution, Catholic Dutch with them.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 11:53 PM

Unfortunately, I only have a flatbed scanner, or I'd scan some of the wonderful illustrations from this book.

My favorite has to be "Old Christmas" (From a book printed in 1888). He's riding in on a great shaggy goat with long horns, and his head is crowned in a wild mass of holly leaves. In his right hand, he's holding a steaming wassail bowl, while a basket of wine and bread is slung over his left arm -- and in the crook of his left arm, dressed in a flowing christening gown and bonnet, is the baby New Year...

Talk about having your hands full!

He seems jolly enough about it, though...

Wonder what my Babtist/Catholic neighbors would think if I put that sort of thing on the front lawn! :::Wicked Grin:::


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 12:18 AM

Great thread, CU!! I love your idea for a lawn Santa, esp. the holly around his head!! I'll have to dig around in my books, now, and see if any of the old ones have some info on any of this.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 12:30 AM

Sounds like a lovely picture. After the holidays I plan to look for more old illustrations in a good used book store here. Local library no good, they periodically throw out the old to make room for the new.
I have the fat old fellow in red on postcards from about 1905 on, so I need the period ca. 1880-1900.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 12:43 AM

Just noticed something in your posts, CapriUni. I have a flatbed scanner. I put opened books on it. The page does not have to be flat against the glass. I use it to make record photos of jewelry, Indian moccasins and all sorts of things. I take the lid off if it is in the way and use a large sheet of white paper over all. A most useful gadget!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: *daylia*
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 05:33 AM

Ho ho ho - thanks so much, Capri! A very Merry Christmas to all ...

daylia


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 05:40 AM

G'day GUEST,Q and CapriUni,

Whether you can scan in depth depends upon the type of inmaging system in the flatbed scanner. The older, deeper, styles use a lens system and can be used for a number of "photographic" tasks. I normally have a box, larger than the plattern and i use suitable coloured sheets of paper for backgrounds.

The newer compact flatbeds - the thin ones, no more than 50mm deep, used a CCD cluster for imagine - but only work on close objects and image. Ultimately, you need to test the results, but the deeper, older ones do the 'deepest' images.

Anyway, either one can scan in flat art from books - as long as the book can be helf reasonably flat on the plattern without damaging the binding. Fragile old books should be professionally imaged - but they are the exception, not the rule.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 07:39 AM

Thanks for the clarification on scanners. I have a so-called photographic scanner and it has trememdous "depth." As you say, books should be treated carefully. Much depends on the binding. Well-bound (not modern) books will stay open at at a page. Most modern books won't open fully unless you smash them.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 08:42 AM

Unfortunately, I have one of those newer, compact scanners, and a newer, not-very-well-bound book...

I think my attitude toward "Santa" (though now that I think of it, calling him "Santa" is rather like calling him "Mister" -- it's his title, not his first name) started with my mother.

She cringed at the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", especially when she overheard a grown-up saying to a cranky or impatient child: "Now, be good -- or Santa won't bring you anything!"

As she put it: "Santa Claus is the personification of Love, and you don't withold love, or even threaten to, just because someone bisbehaves!" And she was right...

But there's another side to the coin: You get back from the universe what you give to it. If you're miserly and greedy, and don't give anything away, than you won't get anything back... nothing to do with witholding love. It's just a force of nature, like painful things happening when you disrespect gravity ;-)

Well, I need breakfast... I'll be back!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 01:22 PM

The real truth is, Santa Claus was created by the Communist Party, in hopes that the legend would drive the capitalist system to such excesses of frivolous spending that it would cause it to self-destruct within 3 or 4 generations of mindless overproduction and overconsumption.

The only flaw in this plan was that the Communist system itself self-destructed FIRST, due to other causes entirely.

Thus the Soviets will not be around to celebrate the consummation of this grisly plan for world domination, which, given all indicators, will probably play itself out to the final catastrophe within the next 20 years, give or take a few... :-)

The question is, who will pick up the pieces afterwards?

- LH


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 01:40 PM

Very interesting theory, LH, except for the fact that 'Claus himself (in all his guises) only promised one elf-made toy, one orange and one handful of nuts to each good recipient -- and one birch branch for each bad recipient.

And the E.L.F-G.L.O (Elven Labor Foundation - Global Light Orgainization) does not trade on any of the world's stock markets.

And as for the other items distributed, well, Oranges, Nuts and Birch Branches really do grow on trees.

Now, as for the excess, I believe the blame really does lie with the capitalists like those early Coca-Cola executives. After all, they endeavored to change 'Claus's coat color to red instead of green, because they believed (and still do believe, it seems) that only money should bear that color, and that they should be in control of it...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 01:58 PM

Read somewhere that the name Sinter Klaus was of Dutch origin. Something about a Bishop that predated the fat Santa.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: curmudgeon
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 02:49 PM

Santas in different colored attire were once common. Many postcards from the years before WWI are illustrative of this: green, blue, brown, red, and even black. The non-red Santas, especially those produced by Tuck of England, are highly sought after by collectors and can easily fetch $20.00 or more, depending on condition.

Then again, is it possible thaat Santa Claus is Karl Marx in a red suit? That would explain the common color -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 12:47 PM

Father Christmas as he was always known by me as a child (Santa being an import from USA in later years) is starting to appear in different colours in the shops here again. I have seen green and silver mainly but also blue and gold. I always thought of him as the spirit of the magic of Christmas and therefore have never felt the need to stop beleiving!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 01:41 PM

In Pennsylvania communities, we had a tradition called Belsnickling, derived from the Pelznichol, which was something like English mumming. Belsnicklers were dressed in wools and furs, and came to the house demanding food and drink. It was, as someone commented above, very much like Halloween.

In fact, trick or treat and caroling are both variants of a common seasonal custom of quetes--i.e., traveling around the countryside "begging" for food. People were oblgated to give food, and sometimes threatened if they did not give any. Think of the verses to we wish you a merry christmas: "now bring us some figgy pudding, and bring it right here!/we won't go until we get some, so brng it right here, etc. These are demands, not polite requests, much like "trick or treat!" In colonial Massachusetts, Christmas was outlawed, partly because the puritans dominated, but partly also because carollers smashed windows and attacked houses with rocks if they were not appeased.

Another great corruption of PA German traditions is the name kris kringle. This was derived from the protestant PA Dutch (which in Pennsylvania means German), who did not like the idea of a saint bringing gifts. They instead claimed that the Christ Child ("Krist Kindle") visited houses. This got imported into the Santa legend as Santa's name!

It is too simplistic to say the Santa "originated" in Pelznichol, however. Remember, just like the Dutch in NY, the PA Germans were protestants: Lutheran, Amish, Mennonite, and many other sects. They were equally opposed to saint worship. Also, the English Father Christmas and other traditions were heavily influential, as was the historical Character of St. Nicholas who was, as someone hinted above, a Bishop in what is now Turkey, but became a popular patron saint for many communities. Nevertheless, the "wild man" and "green man" themes are clarly part of Santa's history and his appeal!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GaryDon
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 01:59 PM

CapriUni - AS you mentioned the Wild Man. Have you come accross any remote references to the Green Man of Celtic lore that would be of any connection. Especially considering Green Man also symbolizes rebirth and regeneration??

courious associaton I had noticed

Gary®


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 06:39 PM

Have you come accross any remote references to the Green Man of Celtic lore that would be of any connection.

I do seem to remember coming across some references somewhere, some time ago... but I'd have to look through my bookshelves for awhile to be sure my memory isn't just playing tricks on me...

I'll probably look later tonight, and get back to this thread...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 10:40 PM

So the Green Man is "Celtic" now, is he? That'll be news to the folklorists. Who's next for that honour, I wonder... Robin Hood? Mickey Mouse?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 11:25 PM

As one of "the folklorists" I can say to Guest: The Green Man IS Celtic, although he is also Germanic, Mediterranean, etc. The Green Man seems to have been around for a very long time, so that the Celts had echoes of both Green Men and Wild Men in their mythologies eg. Annwn and Hafgan in Wales, Cernunnos among the Gauls, etc. But you're quite right that the Green man is neither in origin nor in essence Celtic. It is more primeval than that.

As to Mickey Mouse, well, his name IS Mick...

Of course, Robin Hood is a funny example because the English do the exact same thing with him that Celtic fans do with other lore. Lots of people view RH as a quintessesntial Anglo-Saxon, when Robin is a thoroughly Norman name!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 04:57 AM

Santa Claus as wild man...well, I just watched one of my favorite movies, "Trading Places," and Dan Ackroyd does a pretty good version of just that!

Aloha,
Mark
(Many scenes in the movie were filmed in the area around Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, where I lived when I was a pediatrics resident. And one of the buildings that appears prominently in one of the early scenes is the Curtis Institute of Music--see, it's a musical thread after all!)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 11:51 AM

Well, it was a music thread from the beginning, Mark (at least inside my own head ;-)), since I put it up in protest of the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

(and "Trading places" is one of my favorite comedies, especially in that scene in the subway, when they are all "going undercover")

And as for a specific "Green man" figure associated with the winter gift-giving or child-eating being*, as I understand it, the specific icon of the man-with-leafy-vegetation-for-hair is the summer aspect of the wild man -- taking that form for the spring and summer rituals -- and that the Green man as such wouldn't be around at the end of December... though in this book I cited from at the beginning of this thread, there are several reproductions of the gift-giver figure with horns...


*just thought of this: could this be the origin of the gingerbread man tradition: leaving little edible effigies of children to appease the gift-giver, so he won't eat the real ones?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: wilco
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 06:02 PM

I wonder if "folklore" is the name we give "popular culture" of times past. Its intersting to follow the transformation of non-religious personages and festivals into (respectively) religious/cultural icons or religious liturgical occasions.
    In five hundred years, some semi-pedantic sorts like us will be wondering where exactly Santa Claus became a ceature called Uncle Homer Simpson. Dahhhhh!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 06:49 PM

CU, this site looks as though it draws from the same source as your original post. I notice it says the Wild Man is more Dionysian than the Green, interesting stuff, all of this! please click here.

Uncle Homer?!? So Santa is going to morph to round and yellow as a beach ball?! Ewwww! **BG**


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 10:00 PM

CU, this site looks as though it draws from the same source as your original post. I notice it says the Wild Man is more Dionysian than the Green, interesting stuff, all of this!

Yes... Ms. Siefker points out that Dionysus is one of the more ancient forms of Wild Man (I think "Wild Man" is more a term for a type of supernatural being rather than one specific figure -- like the term "sun god" ... Apollo and Ra are both sun gods, for example ... the Green Knight and Dionysus are both Wild Men).

Uncle Homer?!? So Santa is going to morph to round and yellow as a beach ball?! Ewwww! **BG**

Well, the name of the Simpson family dog is "Santa's Little Helper" ... Coincidence? Maybe... maybe not. ;-)

Speaking of morphing, though: I think that just the fact that Nicholas has gone from bogey man to frighten children to gentle old uncle that everyone wants to have in their family is just more evidence that he does represent the force of Nature.

Way back in the days when these traditions were first focused on by the lens of history, winter was a harsh and deadly time, and it was rare that every family member who saw the last harvest feast would see the next new planting -- the very old and the very young were both liable to die. It is thoroughly understandable then, that the personification of Winter's power was seen as equally deadly and fickle.

Now that we have central heating and cooling, and supermarkets and refrigeration, we see nature not as a threat, but as the generous provider of all our bounty. And Santa, still the personifican of that power, has likewise changed in our eyes... Though if you've ever been to 'Santa Land' in any mall recently, you know that small children are still frightened of him -- perhaps they recognize instictively that he represents a force even bigger than their parents....


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GaryDon
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 10:42 AM

Thank you for the references of the old Wild and Green man. I was unaware of the region which the Green man had roamed, not suprised. As a connection between the two I found it iteresting that the Green man handed over the death throws of nature to the Wild man for the sleep of the winter.

Gary®


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 11:39 AM

As a connection between the two I found it iteresting that the Green man handed over the death throws of nature to the Wild man for the sleep of the winter.

Yes... in some Neo-Pagan traditions, this is represented by a battle between the Holly King (the personification of the waning sun) and the Oak King (the personification of the waxin sun). In this battle, the Holly King is killed (like when Gawain beheads the Green Knight), but the battle will be fought again at Midsummer -- and the outcome of the battle will be reversed.

This ritual of the sacrifice and death of the Holly King has been played out in the tradition of Saint Stephen's day carolling, in which bands of boys go from house to house with a newly killed wren ("the king of all birds") or a wren effigy, asking for money and treats. The Wren Song, in particular, makes a pretty clear connection between the small bird and the Holly King, in this verse:

Rolley, Rolley, where is your nest?
It's in the bush that I love best
It's in the bush, the holly tree
Where all the boys do follow me

(no tune in the DT, but it scans nicely to "Here we go 'round the mulberry bush")

And the connection between the baby Jesus and the triumphant Oak King is at least suggested in this round from the Pammelia (1609):

Oaken leaves, in the merry wood so wild,
when will you grow green-a?
Mary maid, and thou be with child,
"Lullaby" mayst thou sing-a.
"Lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby."
"Lullaby" mayst thou sing-a.

I've seen it with two different melodies -- one from a library book that I don't have at the moment, and the other, from a 1940's book of rounds for children, just sounds thoroughly and utterly (as in "fingernails on a blackboard" utterly) wrong.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: wilco
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 01:19 PM

Capriuni, you are amazing. thanks!!!!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 03:06 PM

It seems that the red-suited Santa Claus stems from drawings by Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly. I believe that these were not colored in the magazine. Would like to know where the first colored image of Santa in a red suit appeared.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 03:43 PM

The goat is seemingly Scandanavian.
One web site says the red-robed Santa came from Coca-Cola advertising in the 1930s, but I have his image from 1906 onwards on postcards. The Nast illustrations from Harper's Weekly show his imperial plumpness with bushy white beard and wide belt, typical of today's Santa except his garment looks more like a union suit. Santa Claus
Illustrations from 1870s-1880s.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 03:49 PM

Print dealer changing website, post-Christmas. The images are still there, just enter Nast Santa Claus in "Search" and check Philaprintshop in right-hand box


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 06:33 PM

Thanks for the link, Q!

Scrolling down the page after the search results came up led me to this illustration. While not by Nast, I think it conveys the sense of Santa Claus as leader of the Wild Hunt, with that wild throng stretching out behind him... The title, according to the link on the Philaprintshop page is: "The Course of Time".


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 07:18 PM

I right-clicked and saved a couple of the illustrations. The 1870s-1880s had competing images of the gift-bearer.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: skarpi
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 09:16 PM

Halló all , I see you are talking about santa , you have one but
here In Iceland we have 13 santas and they start coming
13 days before christmas , one at the time ( one each day )
and they all have their own names.How old they are I have no knowledge at the moment but I will find out.All the Best Skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: skarpi
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 09:21 PM

Try this side, www.isholf.is/gardarj/yule5.htm

and you will find somthing about them.
all the best skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 09:36 PM

Thank you, Skarpi!

What a fun site... here is the same url, blickified: Yulelads


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 09:40 PM

Thanks, skarpi. Very interesting.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Micca
Date: 29 Dec 02 - 07:08 AM

Capri Uni, in the "Wild Man" References above you havent mentioned the Archetypical Celtic Wild man, with both the Foliage and Horns, leader of the Wild Hunt, associated with Trees and a Force of Nature by all accounts,

Herne!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 29 Dec 02 - 07:58 AM

I was thinking of Herne, actually, but as I don't have any source material that mentions him directly, I didn't want to make any claims I couldn't back up...

So, why don't you say a few words? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 29 Dec 02 - 09:58 AM

And let us not forget the Wild Women who are gift bringers, either...

In Italy, it's the witch la Befana, flying on her broom, that brings candy and treats to children at Epiphany (January 6). Here is a webpage all about her done by M. Hos-McGrane's fifth grade class. (I think they did a lot better than some of the adults who put pages up about the same thing).

And in Germany/Northern France there are the three sisters Frau Berchta, Frau Trude, and Frau Holle... Oftentimes, these three are depicted as ogresses who will eat children up.

But according to an article in Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, Frau Berchta is also the guardian of the souls of all the children who died unbabtised, and on the night of Epiphany, she gives them all the form of geese, and leads them on a wild flight through the skies. The farmers' fields that they pass over are blessed and will bear a double harvest the following year.

Personally, I think this is the archetypal origin of Mother Goose -- a witchlike figure who looks after children, often seen riding a flying goose, and holding aloft a golden goose egg (reborn sun). But I have not seen this theory expressed anywhere else. Usually, all theories assume that Mother Goose began in the life of a historical woman -- though it is interesting that some popular folk histories (generally dismissed by professional historians) say that the first Mother Goose was one Queen Bertha of France. ;-)

And then, there is the story of Frau Holle, from the Brothers Grimm, in which a poor, abused stepdaughter, in order to excape the wrath of her stepmother leaps into a well. When she comes to, she finds herself in a sort of Paradise watched over by the witchy (but in this story, kind) Frau Holle. When the girl leaves Frau Holle, she is rewarded with a shower of gold (literally), and returns to the world golden herself from head to toe. The family rooster is the first to announce her coming.

Now, if that's not a tale for Winter Solstice/Yule, I don't know what is!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 02:03 PM

Next Saturday (November 27, 2004) is The Art Garden*,and the theme is "Flight." I was inspired to write an essay based on the ideas discussed in this thread, so I thought I'd share it here.

Father Christmas, Father Wind
By Ann Magill


There is one summer day firmly embedded in the memory of my childhood. I'm lying on my back in our front yard, the sun-warmed earth beneath me, the scent of grasses and the drone of insects filling the still air. I'm gazing upward, where the sky is its deepest blue. For a moment, I get a sense of vertigo, and can almost feel the Earth spinning. Then, I hear the wind approach across the tops of the trees - hear their leaves rustling as it passes over them - first, far away, then closer, and closer, until the wind is over me, swooping down to brush past my ears and over my face.

I knew then, as I know now - the wind is alive. My Classroom Self nods reasonably at talk of barometric pressure and land masses. But my Feeling Self knows different: that the wind is not simply air moving, but a person. It's not human - nothing like those figures with puffed out cheeks and clouds for hair in the corners of old maps. But it's a person, nonetheless: a being far more ancient than I, who moves through the air as a whale moves through the sea, a companion to the birds in flight, flying with them - Father Wind.

Over the years, I've learned I am not alone in my feeling. Just as Mother Nature is personified in the mountains around the world, Father Nature is personified in the wind and storms. Mother Nature provides the stability that allows life to grow; Father Nature brings the change that allows life to flourish. This Father has been given many names: Shiva of the Hindu, Thor of the Norse, Jupiter of the Romans, and . . . Santa Claus.

The Santa we know today is quite tame. They keep him corralled in a simulated environment at the center of the mall. But he wasn't always so domestic. In centuries past, before Halloween became an occasion for parties, the tingly thrill of fear was wrapped up in Christmas, alongside the joy. And the gift-giving Nicholas didn't always wear the title of "Saint." In some German towns he was known as "Rough Claus" or "Furry Nicholas," and seemed just as ready to eat the naughty children as to give the good ones treats. Even today, many of us leave out gingerbread in the shapes of little boys and little girls, and hope that he will be pleased with our offering.

Such is the way with Nature. Live well within the balance of things - giving what you can, and taking no more than you need - and the gifts of Nature are without end. But if you are greedy, or careless, Nature will not hesitate to devour you.

So who else can Santa Claus be, but Father Nature - Father Wind - in disguise? Sweeping down from the North Pole and visiting every house on a single night is a tricky feat even for a saint with the power of magic. But there is no place on Earth that the wind does not blow. He sees you when you're sleeping - he knows when you're awake. He comes down chimneys and flies up them again. He brings the change of seasons, and he carries in the New Year. His wild-wind nature has endured longer than any other of his fiercer aspects, even after he shrank from cannibal to jolly elf. Here is how Clement Clarke Moore described his arrival 160 years ago:

"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the housetop, his coursers they flew,
with a sleigh full of toys, and Saint Nicholas, too."

And after Nicholas finished his work there, they all flew away "like the down of a thistle."

These days, Santa's flight is almost as domesticated as he is - his sleigh arcs through the sky like a jet, or a helicopter with 32 legs, parks itself on our roofs, and takes off just as neatly.

Perhaps this domestication is, in itself, a clue to Nicholas's true identity. It wasn't too long ago that winter was a time of dread. The chances were slim that everyone around the table at the Harvest Feast would live to see the planting in the spring. Now our homes are warm and our refrigerators are well stocked. Nature, like Santa Claus, has become a thing of sentimentality.

But even surrounded by spray-painted snow and Astroturf lawn, there is something awe inspiring about Santa Claus. If you visit his habitat at the mall this year, watch the youngest children who come to see him. They know he is not cuddly. Perhaps they sense he is a being even more powerful than their parents. Perhaps it is time we learn from them.

This year, as we prepare for Nicholas's visit, let's not worry about crying or pouting, but whether we are generous and gentle of spirit. Let us remember that everything we give - even the things shrink-wrapped in plastic - come from the Earth, and to the Earth will return. On Christmas Eve, when we dream of Nicholas's midnight flight, let's give him all the freedom of the wind to dive and race, and soar, to rattle our windows, and crack his whip at our cheeks. For we are what we dream. And he is our Father…
---------


*"The Art Garden" is a sort of "Literary Magazine for the Stage." The editor/Mistress of Ceremonies sends out a theme to a select group of writers, who then each create something on that theme (usually essays or poems, but there are also a few songs, and occasionally, skits) and send it back to the editor, who arranges them all so that the theme is coherently developed.

Then, instead of having our work printed and mailed to subscribers, we all meet at a small theater.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Dani
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 05:35 PM

And thank you, Skarpi, for the great link! It's fun to learn about Iceland and traditions there. I truly hope to visit someday. Can you tell us something about how your family and friends celebrate winter holidays?


Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could separate the Yule/Solstice holidays from the Christian holiday of Christmas, so everyone could celebrate what they want to? Who do we have to see about that?

Dani


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 05:50 PM

Dani, don't wait for someone else to "separate" the aspects of this holiday for you. Ain't gonna happen. Please just enjoy whatever you please and ignore the rest.


Part of the "meanin' of the season" that everyone should be able to agree upon is GOODWILL TO ALL. Tolerating a wide disparity of beliefs would certainly be an element of such goodwill.

To me, it's mostly about peace and love, poultry and alcohol. I'm sure that my pre-Christian Yule-celebrating ancestors would agree.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 06:00 PM

Dani --

It already is separate, actually... "Yule" is the night of the Winter Solstice -- a few days before Christmas (Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, Yule is in June). The precise moment of the solstice will be at 7:42 am, Eastern Daylight (& Mudcat) Time, this year. (2:42 am, GMT)

Personally, I don't mind sharing... after all, most Christians continue to use the Pagan names for the days of the week, and months of the year. If we can share 364 days with no problem, why not share the 365th?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 06:08 PM

Poppagator:

To me, it's mostly about peace and love, poultry and alcohol. I'm sure that my pre-Christian Yule-celebrating ancestors would agree.

Well, if your ancestors were from the lands of the Norse (and possibly Celts), there's a good chance that pork would stand in for Poultry... The wild boar being the creature that pulls Freyr's chariot, and from whom, it is said (don't ask me who said it -- just a vague memory from a high school Latin class), humans got the idea to start plowing the earth.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 12:08 AM

CapriUni, I very much enjoyed your essay. Thank-you. You are a wonderful writer.

Going back to the colors of Santa, the Santa's I make from clay, I paint in several colors. Greens, browns, golds, blues and reds. I think it's unfortunate but my biggest sellers are the santas painted red so although I prefer the other colors, I paint a majority in red.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 12:10 AM

He was a nice bloke to me for a couple years. For the rest he was a...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 02:04 AM

3/4 of ancestors from Ireland, other 1/4 German-Alsatian.

I'm sure we always partook of the swine. Lotsa mutton, too, and yes, eventually, poultry of all kinds.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 09:34 AM

I'm sure we always partook of the swine. Lotsa mutton, too, and yes, eventually, poultry of all kinds.

Are you familiar with Terry Pratchet's Discworld series? If not (and for those readers of this thread who are not) "Discworld" is a paralell world -- and spoof -- of Earth (Britain), with magic and and overload of puns and wierdness.

Anyway, in this world, the "Father Christmas" figure is called "Hogfather," and his sleigh, like Freyr's chariot, is pulled by boars -- only by now, they are the overly-fat, snorting, domestic kind.

I am not overly familiar with the series, but a friend sent me a copy of the novel Hogfather for Christmas, a few years ago.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 09:46 AM

Rustic Rebel --

Your figurres sound beautiful! Do you have pictures of them online somewhere?

Personally, I wouldn't mind red, as it is such a bright color at such a dark time of year, but it is such a cliche by now... and not a very practical color for someone climbing up and down chimneys all night. ;-)

And when I was growing up, we had a wooden Santa figure (2-d, modern design) that my mother had bought in Denmark, that was dressed in a blue coat. He did have red flowers embroidered on his mittens, though. :-)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: dianavan
Date: 24 Nov 04 - 03:15 AM

I grew up with the notion of Black Peter (that was actually my granfather's nickname aka Black Pete) and I can tell you he was no laughing matter. We were as good as gold during the holiday season because we did not want to get coal in our stockings. Worse yet, if you were small enough, he might even put you in Santa's bag after it was empty and take you away.

Sounds scary but I now see Black Peter as a balance to St. Nick.

Nowadays its all Santa and the kids are so hyped, its all over the top. Seems to me that Black Peter kinda kept it all a little more in check. By the way - our St. Nick wore blue velvet.

d


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 24 Nov 04 - 03:51 AM

I learnt at school the Santa Claus came from the European Saint Nicholas which is pronounced San Niklaus...ie San Niklaus became Santa Claus..To me that is a creditable derivation.
Best wishes.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Nov 04 - 01:43 PM

Dianavan --

Nowadays its all Santa and the kids are so hyped, its all over the top. Seems to me that Black Peter kinda kept it all a little more in check. By the way - our St. Nick wore blue velvet.

:::Nods::: Well, Phyllis Siefker, who wrote that book that inspired this thread, points out that our modern-day "Santa" has more in common with Black Pete then the Saint proper. But I agree with you ( that the modern-day Santa is too tame and all sweetness. I think Santa should be made a little bit more wild and scary again.

What you say we go down to the mall with picket signs, and hold a demonstration to "Free Santa"?

BTW, what country did you grow up in, that your St. Nick wore blue?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: dianavan
Date: 24 Nov 04 - 10:55 PM

I grew up in the States. My grandfather was born in Denmark. Since my dad was Native, all of our Christmas traditions were handed down from the European side. We even celebrated the Lucia Bride festival. My cousins were blonde, blue-eyed, virginal brides with wreathes of candles around their heads. I was very envious. I was a little too dark to join the procession but it was a beautiful ceremony.

d


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 25 Nov 04 - 05:18 PM

My grandfather was born in Denmark

Ah! :-) So now, when I think of the blue wooden Santa of my childhood, I shall think of it as being velvet, rather than, say, ...tweed.

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: dianavan
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 01:34 AM

My daughter says that coca cola invented Santa Claus or at least made the image popular to consumers.

d


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Nov 04 - 02:30 AM

Clement Moore (or whoever actually the wrote the poem for which he may have stolen credit) and cartoonist Thomas Nast did a great deal to ingrain Santa Claus into American popular culture; I believe this occurred no later than the 1880s, *well* before Coca Cola would achieve nationwide visibility.

That said, Coke advertising did everything it could to capitalize on Santa's popularity, and their early-20th-century full-color magazine ads probably served to standardize our shared image of Santa's appearance. If I'm not mistaken, I think I remember reading that one particular commerical artist created the Coca Cola Santa Claus, and of course renewed that image with multiple new illustations every year. Sorry ~ can't recall his name.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 27 Nov 04 - 12:43 PM

AIUI, it was Coca-Cola's advertising executives who decided to to give the Nast-style "Santa" his red and white suit -- to match their logo.

And yes, I remember reading that Moore might have stolen credit for "A visit from Saint Nicholas," but I can't remember the details about that.

In any case, that "right jolly old elf" certainly wasn't wearing red -- "He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot," and "was covered all over in ashes and soot." Unless there is a fur-bearing mammal with a berry-red pelt out there in the world, somewhere, that makes me think "Moore's" Santa was wearing a mixture of browns, greys, and perhaps whites.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 12:33 PM

I long to write a humorous satirical novel about a serial killer who does drive-by shootings of Santa Clauses during the festive season...

It would be in the general style of Carl Hiassen books.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 04:23 PM

Gee, LH, sounds like you got some pent up frustration, there... :-)

I know this is risking thread creep, but ...

I'm not familiar with Carl Hiassen's work. What sort of thing has he done?

On a more related topic, I've been contemplating a sort of Pagan "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" ... I know there's a filk to that tune already out there, but I was thinking of writing a song more in tone with "A visit from Saint Nicholas" (or at least written to that rhythm, maybe), where it's clear that Santa is a force of nature.

Hmmm... It will have to wait until I get home to my own 'puter, though, where I can fiddle around with Noteworthy Composer...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Nov 04 - 07:20 PM

No, I'm not frustrated, it just appeals to my twisted sense of humour... :-)

Carl Hiassen writes what I think would be defined as "satirical crime novels". They ruthlessly lampoon the more corrupt social and political aspects and the seamy lowlife characters of the state of Florida in its present hideous state of devolution.

Read 'em for a good laugh! Drive-by shootings of Santa Clauses in Florida would be specially funny, because it doesn't even snow there. Most of the "Santa" characters would themselves be so basically rotten at heart that you wouldn't mind reading about them getting shot. You would begin to think of the killer as a public benefactor. The "Santas" would probably be using their official role as a cover to deal dope, falsify election results, trade in white (and other brands of) slavery, that sort of thing...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 01:04 PM

I knew you weren't really frustrated, LH. That's why I put the winky face up there.

The "Santas" would probably be using their official role as a cover to deal dope, falsify election results, trade in white (and other brands of) slavery, that sort of thing...

I always thought there was something fishy about that elf workshop...

Speaking of which, and getting back to the folklore angle: I think the first mention of the team of specifically 8 reindeer (and their names) dates back to that "Visit From Saint Nicholas," but what was the first reference to Santa's elves (in their modern form at least)?

Just wondering...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Wolfgang
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 09:03 AM

I also could write such a crime novel about serial killings of SCs. But in my book, the seriality would only be a cover for the real motive which would be on a completely personal level against one particular of the SCs (And I would hope nobody spots the similarity of the idea to one Agatha Christie story.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Smile
Date: 05 Dec 04 - 04:23 PM

I think this information is stupid.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: dianavan
Date: 05 Dec 04 - 07:02 PM

If you don't believe in Santa Claus, he can't bring you any presents, can he?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Dec 04 - 08:16 PM

That is an excellent idea, Wolfgang! Very good plot device.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 05 Dec 04 - 09:51 PM

hmmm... still no answer to my question of when (and where) the first modern images of Santa's elves come up, then?

I tried doing a google search with the keywords "Santa's elves" 'literary,' and 'history.' I searched via Ask Jeeves, and Yahoo -- nothing.

Any other ideas?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: dianavan
Date: 06 Dec 04 - 03:42 PM

Maybe he borrowed Snow Whites, dwarfs and re-named them elves. Or maybe that idea was combined with the Elves and the Shoemaker - elves being more idustrious than dwarfs.

Now I'm curious...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: dianavan
Date: 06 Dec 04 - 03:51 PM

I think I found the answer for you Carol. "In modern versions of the Santa Claus legend, only his toy-shop workers are elves. Rudolph, the ninth reindeer, with a red and shiny nose, was invented in 1939 by an advertising writer for the Montgomery Ward Company."


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: dianavan
Date: 06 Dec 04 - 04:09 PM

Sorry, Capri Uni - I thought you were Carol C.

My links weren't very good. I think the elf idea originated in Iceland.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 06 Dec 04 - 05:07 PM

According to the movie "Elf," (which I recommend highly, after missing it in theaters last year and then renting the DVD just recently):

There are only three jobs open to elves (elfs?):

1) Making shoes all night while the lazy-ass cobbler sleeps;

2) Baking cookies inside trees, which is a fire hazard in dry season; and

3) making toys in Santa's workshop.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 07 Dec 04 - 02:43 PM

My links weren't very good. I think the elf idea originated in Iceland.

Yes.... sort of.

There's a thread about that started by Mudcat's own Skarpi (a native of Iceland), here: The trolls and fairy's of Iceland (which I've just refreshed).

What I'm interested in is their first modern incarnation, just as the eight reindeer and their individual names came from "A Visit From Saint Nicholas."

Was Rudolph really their first appearance? I would have thought they were older...

And did you know that the poor ad writer for Montgomery Ward's never got a penny in royalties for his labors?

I'm not fond of the Rudolph story, myself, but still -- that's just a crime!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 06:26 PM

Surely, this excerpt is one explaination to the question of where 'Santa Claus' got his reindeer:

From Santa Claus: Last of the Wild Men by Phyllis Siefker (1997, MacFarland and Company, Publishers):

. . . Dressed in goatskins and wearing a frightening mask and horns, the Yule buck visited children's houses, giving gifts and threatening the nonconformists. Sometimes this character, wearing a buck head, "went after" children. In some areas, the Julbok survived as a straw puppet tossed from hand to hand in games, and in still others, survived only as a buck-shaped cake.

According to Ruth Cole Kainen, in America's Christmas Heritage, the Yule buck is one European creature who made the crossing to America, where he lived on on Hatteras Island, North Carolina, late into the 1700's. Christmas there began with a parade of fife and drums, and shortly before dark the townsfolk dressed in "grotesque" costumes. Then Old Buck emerged from the woods, where he had lived all year. With a steer's head and horns on a pole body covered in quilts and adorned with a bell, Old Buck rushed at the crowds awaiting him.

[. . . ]

The Julbok survived in another capacity, pulling the sled for the gift-giver known as Jultomten, a Yule elf. [. . .]

Despite Jultomten's popularization as a fun-loving gift giver, however, an undercurrent of fear lives on at Sweedish Christmas. Adults in the mid-twentiethe century considered Jultomten a destructive spirit, and set out porridge and milk on Christmas Eve in the hopes of warding off his malevolence. And, although the Yule goblin brings gifts, there is a dark side to the visit as well, and the whole family sleeps together on the floor on Christmas Eve as protection against the goblins who roam the earth during Yuletide.

---
(pages 159-160)

And tonight, in Iceland, the first of the Yule lads, "Stiff Legs," arrives.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 07:51 PM

Santa.....satan


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 08:30 PM

May I recomend Terry Pratchett's Discworld book 'Hogfather' as Christmas reading - it combines a lot of myths and it is good fun.

Anne


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 08:30 PM

Nods.

As has oft been speculated, the image of Satan with horns and tail is thought to be an attempt by the early Christian missionaries to discredit the God/s of the polytheistic Nature-worshipers they were trying to convert.

One image of him is the personification of pure evil, the other evolved (in today's culture) in the personifican of pure generosity.

And one nickname for Satan is "Old Nick"...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 08:33 PM

If I had been Santa Claus back in the 50's I would have been trying to find out where Eartha Kitt lived ASAP!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 12 Dec 04 - 08:58 PM

May I recomend Terry Pratchett's Discworld book 'Hogfather'

You most certainly may. A good friend gave me that book as a Christmas Pressie a few years back, and I enjoyed it mightily.

I also recommend Tim Burton's film The Nightmare Before Christmas, for that old-time spooky feeling for the holiday.

And one more note in reply to Georgiansilver's comment, above (or below, if you're reading this thread in descending order ;-)):

Ms. Siefker points out that when the Christian, persona-of-the-Turkish-Bishop-Saint-Nicholas traveled from house to house, he always had a devil figure in tow, with blackened face, and a chain about his neck. The Saint represented goodness and forgiveness, and the devil (sometimes called Black Pete, or Knecht Ruprecht) repesented the punishments of Hell.

But sometimes, Knecht Ruprecht traveled alone, and when he did so, he embodied both punishment and forgiveness. Eventually, he took on Saint Nicholas's name, as well as his forgiving side.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 04:35 PM

Lots of Santa speculation here http://solsticestudios.net/santawriting.htm


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 05:10 PM

Interesting, oh Pink one....

But I get just a wee bit frustrated by the "It's all psychadelic drugs, man!" explanation. Besides, while Clement Clarke Moore's depiction is the most famous, today, it's not the only, or even the oldest, out there. I certainly don't think that he had any deep meaning in mind when he invented the name of the reindeer, besides whimsy and something that would flesh out the poem while fitting in anapestic tetrameter.

I agree with his point about "Santa" being the embodiment of male power and magic, though.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 05:22 PM

I agree the Clement Moore tie-ins are a stretch, but Nordic mythology describes Odin himself as coming to Earth in the darkest days of winter to present children and poor people with gifts (usually of food) and the shamans of the same descent used to eat the fly agaric and save their urine for communnal jollity. The kidneys effectively filter the toxins and leave the hallucinogen. Don't try this at home -- shamans practiced over years eating minute quantities and building up some tolerance (think of Rasputin) but they didn't live very long enough to develop kidney failure anyway.

Many UK Catters will know Mike Harding is a Green Man afficianado.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 05:26 PM

Oh dear (or maybe Oh deer) that link is naff. Go to his main page and click the link: www.mikeharding.co.uk


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 05:28 PM

hmmm ... one more time: http://www.mikeharding.co.uk/


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 13 Dec 04 - 10:34 PM

Thanks for the Mike Harding link... third time's the charm, eh?

While I acknowledge that fly agaric played some role in the legend; it's the reductionist aspect that bothers me most.

Here's a memory flashback: one year in school, our Latin teacher got all the classes together on Dec 13th for a Saturnalia celebration, and true to custom, a man came in dressed as the god Saturn in chains, gave a speach about freedom and the nobility of Man [in Latin]. Then, after the student acting as the priest broke the chains, "Saturn" passed out cookies shaped like himself... sorta. The teacher couldn't get her hands on "Saturn" cookies... so he passed around "Santa" cookies instead.

Odin, Saturn... there seems to be a whole sky-god thing, going on, doesn't there?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 15 Dec 04 - 01:23 PM

Just thought I'd let folks know: I've posted a song-in-progress here about this more Pagan-y, dark, and Trickster "Jolly Old Nick"


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 11:33 AM

At 95 I thought I'd put this back up the page for El Ted to try for another 100 !!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 11:34 AM

Ha! We meet on the battlefield at least Leadfingers you pickerninny!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 11:36 AM

97


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 11:38 AM

98


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 11:38 AM

99


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 11:39 AM

100. too late!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: muppett
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 11:39 AM

100


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: muppett
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 11:40 AM

Not again, I'm off home, See yer 2morrow!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 16 Dec 04 - 02:20 PM

Well, I thank you fellers for refreshing this thread, this isn't really the season for mindless bickering...

. . . or is it?


Anyway, I just thought I'd mention that I'm happy with my song, now... and I don't think it's "in progress" anymore...

And still no first literary version of modern "Santa's elves"? Come on, there's got to be some information, somewhere!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: muppett
Date: 17 Dec 04 - 04:26 AM

Eh up I'm back


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 17 Dec 04 - 04:30 AM

Morning muppet, you just rolled up then? Some of us have been sat in our Executive swivel chairs since 7.23am (approx)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: muppett
Date: 17 Dec 04 - 04:33 AM

Nay I Got in at 8.43, but I had to tune my radio into talk sport for the test match, have me morning crap and make a brew before I switched my computer on.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 17 Dec 04 - 06:15 AM

It's all go in mucky Bratfud eh what?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: muppett
Date: 17 Dec 04 - 06:25 AM

Well it is now, just off to 1st of 3 meetings today,


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 20 Dec 04 - 06:02 PM

I think (just maybe) I've been putting too much thought-energy into the idea of the Yule Father being the embodiment of the North Wind...(But see here, Furry Nicholas, I've putting a winky-face! I really do luvya!) ;-)

Hasn't gotten above freezing zll day today, and will get even colder tonight. It will warm up Wednesday and Thursday, then, depending on what direction Yule Father flies, we may get snowfall on the 25th.

(That'll teach me to be all bah-humbuggish about Irving Berlin's classic song!)

Oh, and for many years, my mother gave me a Gordon Bok record for Christmas... would that count to make him a Jul Bok? ;-)


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