Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Little St Nick

The Santa Claus we have all come to love, was actually created by Coca Cola. In 1931, they commissioned Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop the image of Santa Claus for their Christmas ad campaign. He did so using Clement Clark Moore's 1822 poem, "A visit from St. Nick" (commonly called "Twas the Night Before Christmas"). That same year, the company put the ad in The Saturday Evening Post. The rest as they say is history.

Image result for Haddon Sundblom santa claus

The road to Sundblom's Santa Claus was long and twisted. And it started in the Mediterranean during the Roman Empire. December 6th is St Nicholas Day. The saint was born in Greece around 280 BC. He achieved saint hood when, among other things, he went to prison for the Great Persecution in 303 BC, when Bibles were burned.
Image result for images of St nicholas the gift giver in tudor era
In the Tudor era, December 6th in their 12 days was St. Nicholas day. At that time he was known as 'The protector of all different people, the old, the orphans, young children, and the poor.' By the 13th century, he had gone from ‘The Protector of people’ to  the 'Saint of Young Children and Magical Happenings'. 

From 1200 to 1500, Nicholas was known as the bringer of gifts. His presence (and promise)  encouraged children to stay out of trouble, say their prayers, and be good to all people and animals. 

However, during the Protestant Reformation in the 1500's. Saints fell out of favor. Still, there are several tales about Nicholas and his good deeds. One was the story of ". . . young girls [who] were saved from a life of prostitution when young Bishop Nicholas secretly delivered three bags of gold to their indebted father to be used for their dowries."

Another story was "Nicholas entered an inn whose keeper had just murdered three boys and pickled their dismembered bodies in basement barrels. Nicholas not only sensed the crime, but resurrected the victims as well. 'That's one of the things that made him the patron saint of children'."

Over the years, there were stories of St. Nicholas as the gift giver to good girls and boys. Then in 1822 came "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (aka 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'), the poem written by Clement Clark Moore about the plump happy man in a red coat, smoking a pipe, coming down the chimney bringing gifts and toys, traveling from house to house on a sleigh pulled by 8 reindeer.
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So there!

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