[thechat] santa question - quickie

Chris Marsh chris at webbtech.co.uk
Tue Nov 26 09:13:05 CST 2002

> > Wasn't santa invented in, like, 1920 or something?
> The current westernized Santa, the fat man with white beard,
> was invented by the Coca-Cola Bottling company as part of
> their advertising campaigns, I believe back in the '20s.
> Before that, Kris Kringle, the European version, tall and
> thin, was the icon of Christmas....


St. Nicholas is pictured in medieval and renaissance paintings as a
tall, dignified man dressed in red vestments carrying a Bishop's golden
crook. Zwarte Piet is depicted in garish Turkish garb with bright red
lips and a gold earring. The legend describes St. Nicholas and Zwarte
Piet traveling from their home in Spain across Europe helping the poor
and bring food to children. Through the ages, the story of St. Nicholas
astride his white horse with this helper Zwarte Piet grew into a
tradition to celebrate the feast day on December 6th. St. Nicholas
travels to Holland on a steam ship from Spain. He would leave in mid
November and arrive on December 5th. Just in time to place small gifts
and treats like pepernoten, chocolate initials, marzipan figures and
fruit.In the past, St. Nicholas carried a Birch switch used to punish
children who were naughty and Zwarte Piet was said to put bad children
in his sack or would leave them a lump of coal in their shoes instead of
treats. Today, St. Nicholas is portrayed as a more gentle figure and
Zwarte Piet is a jokester.

I love the fact that in less PC times there was an active penalty for
children being bad, rather than the passive penalty of simply not
receiving any gifts. Black Pete sounds like a complete nutter; maybe
there wouldn't be such a problem with the delinquent youth if Nick and
Pete had stuck to their guns on corporal punishment...


Chris Marsh

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