Santa Claus Acrostic
leipnir was the name of Odin's eight legged horse upon which he would come down to earth in December disguised in a long blue hooded cloak, and carrying a sack of bread and a staff. His origins were in Viking lore, brought to Britain when these invaders arrived and conquered in the 8th-9th centuries.
Odin was the father of the gods, and had twelve characters. The character for December was sometimes known as Yalka or Jul and his month was known as Jultid. From this, we get Yuletide. Odin was supposed to sit with people around their fire, and listen in to hear if they were content or not. Sometimes he would leave a gift of bread for the poor. This is the beginning of the legend.
t that time Britain was a largely Saxon stronghold and the Saxons celebrated and welcomed King Frost, or Father Time, or King Winter. Someone would represent him and be given a fine hat or crown to wear, and brought to sit at the fireside. They hoped that by in welcoming this deity winter would be kinder to them and not so cold! A similar tale of a benevolent stranger was prevalent here too.
icholas (who later became St Nicholas in the 19th century) was popular in Europe long before he was in Britain. Born in Turkey he became Bishop of Myra. In 1087 a group of sailors moved his bones to Bari, Italy where he took the place in popularity of “The Grandmother” or “Pasqua Epiphania”, a deity who used to fill children's stocking with gifts.
was the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in the hope that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…”
Dr.Clement Moore published his now famous poem in 1822.
fter reading a satire on Dutch culture entitled “Knickerbocker History” written in 1809 by novelist Washington Irving (most famous for “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”) the above poem was written by Moore in 1822.
The Dutch name for the equivalent counterpart of Nicholas was Sinterklaas ~ (easy to see how this mutated into the name “Santa Claus”). This name was used by Irving in his satire. The satire refers to Santa Claus with his white beard riding his flying horse.
artoon images of Santa, based on Moore's poem were drawn by Bavarian illustrator Thomas Nast and between 1862 and 1886 Nast drew more than 2,200 cartoon images of Santa for Harper's Weekly.
Before Nast, Saint Nicholas had been pictured as everything from a stern looking bishop to a gnome-like figure in a frock. Victorian illustrators often showed Father Christmas as either a pagan figure with icicles or ivy around his head; or, with the influence of the new religious movement, as a stern and forbidding saint, as likely to punish as to reward children. The idea of “naughty or nice” had been cast.
ater Nast also created a home at the North Pole, a workshop filled with elves, and the list of the good and bad children in the world. Thomas Nast created the modern picture of Santa Claus.
lbert, husband of Queen Victoria began a revival of celebrating Christmas in the 19th century. The Nativity of Christ had been celebrated for centuries and most traditional customs were of Pagan origin. There then followed a period where Christmas celebration was almost non-existent due to the condemnation of pagan customs and superstitions during the Protestant Reformation. The Puritans then abolished all public celebrations after the Civil War and Christmas revelries declined.
The Christmas revival really began during the reign of Queen Victoria, a time when Prince Albert introduced many of his native German customs into Britain, including boosting the popularity of the Christmas tree in every home rather than just for royalty and the very rich.
nder the tree is now the more usual place for Santa to leave all the presents but the hanging of stockings had become popular in this period although for the poorer children the only gifts would be a few nuts and some fruit.
For the lucky children from richer families a whole array of gifts were possible: for a girl, things such as a doll and clothes to dress her in, hair ribbons, a sewing kit, drawing pencils, a book, a canary(!), or perhaps mittens or a muff to keep out the cold. A boy might have stamp album, marbles, some skates, a sled, and a toy pistol, a wind-up toy such as a tin soldier, a model train, carved animals or a shoeshine kit.
anta's traditional red outfit was the only thing missing from our modern counterpart and this was provided not by the Victorians but by the Coca Cola Corporation when they contracted the Swedish commercial artist Haddon Sundblom to create a coke-drinking Santa in 1931.