The evolution of Father Christmas.
By: Tere Guaty DeWitt
Father Christmas: We can track Father Christmas origin since the fifteenth Century in England when “Sir Christemas” appear in a Christmas carol; but not until the seventeenth Century when Ben Johnson’s Carol “Old Captaine Christemas” performed to the court in December 1616 that Father Christmas stared to become popular, much to the dismay of the Puritans that tried to eliminate the character, but no mater how they tried they fail to stop his popularity.
In the Nineteenth Century, Father Christmas benefited from the Victorian revival of Christmas and can be found in Dickens’s the “Ghost of Christmas Present is Father Christmas”.1843s.
Father Christmas became the emblem of good cheer; his character took a variety of looks changing according to the offerings, such as Music, Health, Wealth and Joy. He was dress in a dark green or white suit, with white fur and either a green and white hat or a crown of holy on his head. Toward the end of the 1870’s his role change once again, becoming at this time a more familiar character as a children’s gift giver emulating the European St. Nicholas and the American Santa Claus (1773-1793)
St. Nicholas: Before the ninth century tales of feats about Nicholas stared to evolve. As a young priest Nicholas protected and saved three maidens from forcefully earning a living as prostitutes by throwing into their windows purses of gold on three consecutive days providing each of them with the dowry necessary for a good marriage. Hence the custom of giving gifts associated with him. He dedicated his life to the church and protecting young girls and children’s. He later became the Saint of marines, thieves, virgins and children.
In 1003 Vladimir Duke of Russian (KIEV) became familiar with the Saint story while visiting Constantinople. Upon his return to Russia he made St. Nicholas his country patron saint. Immediately after, St. Nicholas became extraordinarily popular with the people resulting with the syncretization of St. Nicholas with the existing Russian winter folk Spirit “Father Frost”. Father Frost has a long white beard, is dressed in furs and drives a sled drawn by reindeer.
Father Frost and Kritkindlein (Christ Child) later became Kris Kingle in 1842 in the USA.
The first recorded post- repeal celebration in the United State was in 1686, with Congress declaring Christmas a national holiday in 1875
Santa Claus: The first documented reference associating Santa Claus with Christmas rather that Father Christmas, Father Frost or St. Nicholas was Dec 25th 1821 with this poem by William B. Gilley.
“A Children’s Friend”
Old Santeclaus with much delight
His reindeer drives this frosty night
O’er chimney tops, and tracks of snow,
To bring his yearly gift to you….
Each Christmas eve he joys to come
Where love and peace home made their home
Between 1804 and 1821 Santa Claus started to look more like the Dutch “Suter Claes” dress in fur in the landscaping of the artic with reindeers. The first illustration of Santa Claus by Nast was in 1863, his attired this time was a star spangle jacket and strips pants, looking very American almost like a happy Uncle Sam. But in 1931 Coca-Cola launched a marketing campaign that would forever revolutionize the look of Christmas. Archie Lee of the D’Arcy Advertising Agency proposed a realistic, modern looking Santa Claus with red cheeks and wrinkles around the eyes, but vital and jolly.
That Holiday Promotion gave us the Modern Santa Claus.
The Coca-Cola Santa Claus created by artist Haddon Sunblom, had its debut in 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post.
A figure that symbolize the innocence of children and the wonder of a magic night.
Do you believe in Santa Claus? I do, I see it in the eyes of my grandchildren, and the joy in their heart.
To all the children still inside of all of us.
May Santa bring you and yours, joy and love this Holiday Season
Santa Claus 2009