Who IS this Obese Home Invader with Bad Taste in Clothes?
Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Old Saint Nic, Kris Kringle, Papa Noel… whatever you call him… we all know him as the jolly bearded make-believe-man that shoots down the chimney at Christmas and delivers presents to our kids.
Let’s go over that again, shall we?
Twas the night before Christmas… and as your darling children sleep safely in their beds, their heads filled with images of sugar plum fairies and gifts under the tree, an elderly gentleman with a rotund belly dressed head to toe in fur and red velvet parks his sleigh (led by 8 reindeer) on your roof and breaks into your home. As the entire house is fast asleep he sneaks into your children’s bedrooms, he takes an empty sock and he fills it with gifts. He then consumes the peace offering of food and drink you have left out for him and he repeats this in the home of every child in the land (excluding those unfortunate kiddies who are poor, have lazy parents or don’t celebrate Christmas). Please also bear in mind that this is only for the good children, because Father Christmas is also a judgmental bastard and watches your children all year long to decide who gets what whilst his height-challenged assistants help him make toys back in the North Pole. Alrighty then…
And if that’s not scary and strange enough for you, then check out these other little known facts about our favourite Christmas character.
10 Weird Santa Facts
1. Once Upon A Time…
In the 4th century in Myra (now Turkey) legend has it that a generous man with a long beard and red cape (I’m guessing most men looked like that back then, before Gillette was a household name and all that) saved three daughters from being sold into prostitution by leaving gold coins in their stockings (kinda what they would have got being prostitutes anyway, but still). So then St. Nicholas became famous throughout Europe and eventually became the patron saint of Russia. His remains were finally laid to rest in Italy, with many believing that they still hold magical power. His legend of generosity continued in Holland, where the Dutch spelled his name Sint Nikolaas, which became “Sinterklaas” and when the Dutch arrived in the USA in the 17th century it became Santa Claus. But the Brits have always called him Father Christmas, because we keep things simple.
2. Legend Has It
There are many stories attached to the legend of Saint Nic. One of which was that he fed an entire country during a famine with some leftover wheat from a sailor’s boat, the other was that he saved three boys from a cannibalistic butcher who was going to turn them into bacon. So it’s always good to know that he prefers his kids without a side serving of relish!
3. Chimney Creep
In 1809 the satirical book The History of New York came up with the concept of Santa being portly and sliding down the chimney. Before that he was known as being slight and saintly and staying outside of people’s homes… where most strange men belong.
4. Power of Pop
Anyone that doubts the influence of a good bit of festive marketing only need look as far as Coca Cola and what it did to our Father Christmas. Before their 1931 Christmas campaign, Old Saint Nic was depicted in many a different coloured fur – but now he’s everywhere sporting a distinct Coca Cola Pantone colour number 484. Cheers Coke, no wonder the jolly fellow is so fat with all that fizzy shite he must consume. Holidays are coming, holidays are coming…
5. Greedy Guts
In the USA everyone leaves out milk and cookies for Santa. Well I don’t know about in your house, but in mine he used to get Whisky and a pork pie (my father never had much of a sweet tooth). Most British homes leave out Sherry and Mince Pies, and in Scandinavia they apparently leave out rice porridge. Lucky Santy. Basically Father C needs to stop snacking and binge drinking and have a decent meal. I’m leaving out an energy drink and a salad this year… that should sort him out.
6. Secret Santa
Santa and Marketing go hand in hand, because it seems that once again we have the USA and their genius sales promotions tactics to thank for the gimmick of Father Christmas in department stores. The Smoking Jacket in 1890 records James Edgar from Massachusetts as the first store Santa, and from then on the idea has grown from strength to strength. Roll up, roll up, go place your petrified screaming child on the lap of an old strange man in disguise…
7. Supercilious Old Git
The concept of Santa’s ‘Naughty Or Nice List’ is a relatively new one and was popularised in the 1934 song ‘Santa Claus is Coming To Town’. He knows if you’ve been sleeping, he knows if you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good – so be good for goodness sake. Okay, okay, you successfully scared the shit out of me. I’m going to sleep now!
8. Everyone Wants To Be FC
Over 70 men of Hollywood have played Father Christmas on the big screen since 1946 – including Richard Attenborough, Fred Astaire and even Billy Bob Thornton! So basically Santa is a twinkle toed, wise arse, bearded brawler…
9. Santa Castrates His Reindeer
We all know that the eight reindeer got their names from the Clement Clark More 1823 poem ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas‘ (Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen) – but did you know that in the winter male deer lose their antlers? Which means that either Santa’s reindeer are all female or he castrates his working animals. And where is Rudolph and his red nose in the poem? He didn’t come to life until 1939 when Robert May wrote a children’s book about him. He was probably also a unique type of deer called ‘Rangifer Tarandus‘, native to Arctic regions in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Russia and Scandinavia which have a distinct red hue to their noses. Apparently. If you want to get scientific about it. Bloody xenophobic deer.
10. Rude Laugh
When Santa laughs it is said that it sounds like ‘Ho ho ho’ due to his huge gut, love of binge drinking and the jolly demeanor described in the aforementioned poem:
. . . a little round belly, That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly.
H0H 0H0 is also the postcode that is used in Canada to direct letters written to Father Christmas, although in some parts of America Santas aren’t allowed to use that laughter as ‘Hoe’ is slang for prostitute. Which takes us straight back to Fact Number One!
Personally I love a bit of tradition at Christmas, and I love to keep the children’s imagination and sense of wonder alive at this time of year. But I won’t pretend that it doesn’t piss me off that the freaky fat man in red gets all the praise for my spectacular present buying every year, and I will be locking all the doors and windows this year… because I’ve kinda freaked myself out writing this!