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The origin of the Santa Claus/flying reindeer legend


  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Now hold on a minute.

    What do you mean 'legend'?

  • iKrivetkoiKrivetko Member Posts: 934
    edited December 2015
    Isn't it common knowledge that Santa is based on Odin?

  • ButtercheeseButtercheese Member Posts: 3,769
    The story I know is, that in the USA they simply mixed up the catholic Saint Nickolaus with the russian Father Frost, gave them the Coca Cola colors and the rest was history o.o

    There are still countless households all over the world who refuse to celebrate Christmas involving Santa Claus because of that.

  • MathsorcererMathsorcerer Member Posts: 3,003
    We have a long and glorious history in the United States of fabricating what a "traditional" Christmas means. The myth of "the entire family goes to the grandparents' house, then we go out and chop down a real tree, bring it back, decorate it, then the entire family sits in front of the fire drinking eggnog and singing carols" is a Hollywood/Greeting Card Company scenario.

    @Buttercheese is correct--the modern version of Santa Claus with whom we are all most likely familiar was a crafty invention by marketing professionals in the late 1800s. The classic poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas", first published in 1823, set in stone much of the present-day traits of Santa Claus--drives a sleigh pulled by reindeer, lands on rooftops, etc. His physical description from that poem was updated in 1863 when Thomas Nast drew various cartoons featuring Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly; these drawings gave us the version we know today--an overweight, elderly, grandfather-type person who hands out presents.

    Unfortunately, the color scheme of the modern Santa Claus was not invented by the Coca-Cola Company. Earlier depictions portray him in the classic red suit before the famous Coca-Cola art from the 1930s.

    Ms. Claus did not appear until nearly 1890 and her role was not set into lore until the 1940s.

    Rudolph did not appear until 1939, when the poem was written by Robert May for Montgomery Ward. The poem was not set to music until 1949 by Gene Autry.

    Although many people associate Frosty the Snowman with Christmas he actually doesn't have anything to do with the holiday whatsoever. He was just the main character in yet another song recorded by Gene Autry in 1950.

  • BillyYankBillyYank Member Posts: 2,769
    edited December 2015
    There's a neat little "spirit of Christmas" type story associated with Rudolph:

    The post-war demand for licensing the Rudolph character was tremendous, but since May had created the story on a "work made for hire" basis as an employee of Montgomery Ward, that company held the copyright to Rudolph, and May received no royalties for his creation. Deeply in debt from the medical bills resulting from his wife's terminal illness (she died about the time May created Rudolph), May persuaded Montgomery Ward's corporate president, Sewell Avery, to turn the copyright over to him in January 1947, and with the rights to his creation in hand, May's financial security was assured.
    Can you even imagine a corporation doing something like that today?

  • MathsorcererMathsorcerer Member Posts: 3,003
    Christmas Eve, 1865, in McKinney, TX, the James brothers (Frank and Jesse) had recently robbed a bank (it might have been a train...I forget which) but in the spirit of the season they went to the town square and started handing out money.

  • DragonKingDragonKing Member Posts: 1,851
    We are talking about the patron saint of prostitutes, right?

  • BillyYankBillyYank Member Posts: 2,769

    We are talking about the patron saint of prostitutes, right?

    Ho. Ho. Ho.

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