Sunday, December 24, 2006

'Twas The Night Before Christmas

All Day Long, go figure. Since today is officially The Night Before Christmas, that's its tag. All day long we are in the night. Hmmm another hangover fromthe ancient celebration of Winter Solstice and the the the return of the light after the longest night of the year.

So is Christmas really all about the Three Magi or is it the most successful modern capitalist celebration foisted on the public?

Christmas began as a greeting card. Like mothers day which was also subverted by the greeting card industry despite its origin as a feminist abolitionist celebration.

Today's Christmas and Santa Claus are the creation of modern American capitalist society.

Alternative Christmas without Coca Cola Santa

PEJ News
- Richard Walpole - An artist in Sooke on Vancouver Island recenty erected a cross with Santa Clause nailed to it. Santa soon disappeared, only to be found someplace else, but that did not matter. Comparing a mythological character created by a soft drink company to Jesus startled many people. And of course, the irony was not lost on anybody.

Has Santa Claus (r)(c)(tm) corporate shill finally replaced St. Nicholas, as the spirit of Christmas?

Santa Replaces Solemn St. Nicholas

A man points at the new Santa Claus statue in the Mediterranean town of Demre, southern Turkey. ANKARA, Turkey - What's a huge plastic Santa Claus doing among palm trees in a seaside town in Turkey? The mayor's answer is simple: He's back home. Suleyman Topcu put up the statue in the Mediterranean town of Demre to honor its favorite son, St. Nicholas, the inspiration for the Santa legend. "The modern statue looks like a cheap toy, it has no artistic value at all," Ayse Uslusaydam, a pharmacist in Demre, said Thursday. "The previous one had style." St. Nicholas served as bishop of Demre in the 4th century. From there, the legend of his generosity spread around the world and became interwoven with mythical stories of the jolly gift-giver.

The Future is in Our Past

Let's put Christ back into Christmas, is an oft-heard phrase. Peter says, “How can we put Christ back into something in which He never was?” He challenges me to search the Bible from Genesis to Revelation to find even a suggestion to commemorate Christ’s birth. He says, “You will find that we should keep the Sabbath and Passover, which we ignore, but not Christmas.” Peter tells me the same story every Christmas, usually when he’s under the influence, but this year he goes even further. He tells me the real central character of Christmas, Santa Claus, was the brainchild of Coca-Cola's marketing department early in the 20th century. Santa Claus was based loosely on the English Father Christmas and the German Kris Kringle. Apparently, it’s true. My research uncovers that “millions of children every year would be without a lap to sit on or a reason for being good if it weren’t for Coco-Cola’s invention of the fat, jolly Santa Claus we know today, first introduced in 1931.” The only thing that ties Santa Claus to Jesus is we identify him with Saint Nicholas, a churchman who was known for throwing sacks of coins through the open windows and down chimneys of the needy. There is zilch about Santa Claus in the bible. Coca-Cola’s Santa may be present in the modern creche, but no one like him appears in the gospel.

Like the Night Before Christmas , Santa Claus is an American invention. And his invention coincides with the rise of capitalist ascendancy in America as a celebration created by the advent of the Department Store, Madison Avenue advertising, and a popular cocaine laced beverage.

"In considering the social effects of the department store, one is inclined to attach the greatest importance to the contributions which they have made to the transformation in the way of life of the greatest strata of the population, a transformation which will remain the one great social fact of these last 100 years." Hrant Pasdermadjian, The Department Store, Its Origins, Evolution and Economics, 1954

The man in the red suit

He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.

There is no Santa Claus. Not in the poem now known as "The Night Before Christmas" published anonymously in 1823 and credited to Clement Clarke Moore, whose verses feature a weirdly elvish figure named St. Nicholas. Not in Charles Dickens' 1842 "Christmas Carol," with all its sanctimonious sermonizing about Tiny Tim and the true meaning of Christmas.

For all practical purposes, there is no Santa Claus before 1862, the year that Rowland H. Macy took the gift-giving gnome known around New York as Sinterklaas (from the Dutch "Sint Nicolaas"), used an Anglicized name, had him impersonated by a reassuringly full-size human, costumed him in a nice, clean cloak, and installed him in the store as a means of snaring more Christmas shoppers.

And like so many myths all the facts are conjecture, as no one can agree on how all this Night Before Christmas, Santa stuff really got started.

All the Christmas answers you need

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 12/24/06

Christmas may be among the world's most misunderstood holidays.

No wonder. Every December, stories about the baby Jesus, a moving star, Santa Claus and flying reindeer get tossed into a blender like the ingredients for eggnog.

The result is a hodgepodge of confusing Christian and pagan traditions that form the basis for an annual binge of buying and gift-giving. So where did these traditions come from? Here are some answers.

Q: Where does Santa Claus come from and what does he have to do with Christmas?

A: Everything or nothing, depending on whether you like to get your answers from theologians or the CEOs of large retail chain stores.

The origins of Santa Claus may be nearly as mysterious as the answer to where the baby Jesus comes from.

Many believe Santa got his start as Nicholas of Myra, a fourth-century bishop whose love of children and concern for the poor, sailors and their ships earned him sainthood.

Others see him as a modern day Odin, a Norse god who flew around on an eight-legged horse. The Dutch called him Sinterklass. To the English, he is Father Christmas.

In America, his name became Santa Claus. The publication of a famous poem in the early 19th century firmly established Santa's image as a "jolly old elf" who, once every year, distributes presents around the world with the help of eight flying mammals of the Rangifer tarandus variety.

Q: What's the title of that poem?

A: Bet you're thinking it was " 'Twas the Night before Christmas."

Well, t'wasn't.

The poem, first published anonymously in 1823, was titled "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

Q: What are those reindeers' names?

A: That might be as debatable as is the authorship of the poem, which is credited to Clement Clarke Moore.

In the original version, which some argue was written by Henry Livingston, the names are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Dunder and Blixem.

In later versions, the last two names were changed to Donder and Blitzen.

The ninth and most important reindeer of all came from copywriter Robert L. May. In 1939, Montgomery Ward hired May to write a story for a free Christmas coloring book to attract shoppers to its stores.

By 1949 that coloring book story of "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer" had evolved into a hit Gene Autry song that sold 2 million copies in its first year.

In the song, which was written by Johnny Marks, Donder became Donner.

Tracing the legend of Old Saint Nick

The American version of the Santa Claus figure received its inspiration and its name from the Dutch legend of Sinter Klaas, brought by settlers to New York in the 17th century, and the name evolved into what it is today — Santa Claus.

As early as 1773 the name appeared in the American press as “St. A Claus.”

A popular author, Washington Irving, gave Americans detailed information about the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas in his book “History of New York” published in 1809 under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker.

This Dutch-American Saint Nick achieved his fully Americanized form in 1823 in the poem “A Visit From Saint Nicholas” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke.

It was further elaborated by illustrator Thomas Nast, who depicted a rotund Santa for Christmas issues of Harper’s magazine from the 1860s to the 1880s.

Finally, from 1931 to 1964, Haddon Sundblom created a new Santa each Christmas for Coca-Cola advertisements that appeared world-wide on the back covers of Post and National Geographic magazines.

Jolly old patriot is theme of historic town's efforts to lengthen it's tourist season
Santa made his entrance into America on Jan. 3, 1863, with a long, white beard and cozy suit adorned in stars and stripes. On the cover of Harper's Weekly, famous cartoonist Thomas Nast showed an image of Santa Claus handing out gifts to weary Civil War soldiers.

Gettysburg businesses hope to re-create that Civil War Christmas experience by creating a destination town immersed in holiday cheer and history.

And they chose Nast's picture, recognized as the first image of Santa in America, to be the central symbol for their efforts this season.

Iconic St. Nick, as fat and jolly elf, was seen in Claymont first

Illustrator Felix Darley drew early image that led to our version of Santa

CLAYMONT -- Perhaps this town should be renamed something more Christmasy.

Like Darleymont.

After all, for nearly two decades before his death, it was the home of 19th-century illustrator Felix Darley (1821-1888), who drew one of the pioneering images of Santa Claus in 1862 -- a year before political cartoonist Thomas Nast, who is often credited with the deed, and long before the even more familiar Coca-Cola Haddon Sundblom version came out in the early 1930s.

Darley's elf-like image of Santa was created to illustrate one of the first book editions of Clement C. Moore's poem, "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," nearly four decades after the poem was written and published in the Troy, N.Y., Sentinel on Dec. 23, 1823. Darley's Santa was depicted in a country setting said to be Claymont of that time, and Darley himself would end up helping to teach and inspire the cadre of illustrators and painters who made the Brandywine Valley their home.

Did Coke really create Santa Claus as a corporate shill? And is Coke really celebrating Santa Claus or the creation of it's famous bottle?

Coca-Cola Honors 75th Anniversary Of Coca-Cola Santa

Anniversary of an icon Coca-Cola contour bottle celebrates 90 years.
2006 marks the anniversary of a true icon. It was 90 years ago, in 1916, that the now famous Coca-Cola bottle began appearing on store shelves, having been patented on November 16 the year before. Called the Coca-Cola "contour" bottle, this unique package remains an instantly recognizable symbol that distinguishes the world's best known soft drink from all other products.

Historic concoction featured in museum display

Coca Cola items appropriately decorate the Alva Cherokee Strip Museum’s Drug Store room, courtesy of Gail Wilks.

A pharmacist, John Pemberton, developed Coca Cola in 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, in a three-legged brass kettle in his backyard. His bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, suggested the name for the tonic which contained extracts of cocaine as well as the caffeine-rich kola nut.

Robinson, using his excellent penmanship, first scripted “Coca Cola” into the flowing letters which became its trademark logo.

It was first sold as a soft drink at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta on May 8, 1886. Total sales for the first year reached nearly $50. Unfortunately, the drink cost about $70 to manufacture.

As the danger of cocaine became known, the company researched and found ways to retain the distinctive taste without any of the harmful drug.

Wilks began collecting Coke items more than 20 years ago. Many of the ornaments on the tree are limited edition dated items.

Coca-Cola's Santa Claus: Not The Real Thing!

This month, Coca-Cola celebrates the 75th anniversary of its dubious claim of creating today's modern-day image of Santa Claus, when it began using illustrations of jolly St. Nick in advertisements in 1931.

There's one problem with Coke's assertion that it created the fat, white- whiskered, red-and-white garbed Santa: The Claus that refreshes was actually introduced two decades earlier by White Rock Beverages.
The White Rock Collector's Association has posted several White Rock "Santa" ads at , including a 1915 ad in Collier's and several from the 1920's in Life magazine, featuring Kris Kringle enjoying the taste of White Rock.

So it is no wonder that Santa Claus(tm)(c)(r) has been associated with sweat shop labour, he is the ultimate icon of American corporate citizenship, the symbol of mass consumer culture.





Find blog posts, photos, events and more off-site about:
, , ,
, , , , , , , , , , ,
, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No comments: