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He was dressed all in red, from his head to his foot...

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 04, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Father Christmas posted by James Briggs on December 04, 2003

: : : : After a recent argument about the origins of Father Christmas as he is known today - plump, jolly, clothed in red - I have discovered that contrary to one fokelore, this image was not created by Coca Cola in an advertising campaign begun in the 1930s.

: : : : However, I have failed to find whether Coca Cola's use of the American ideal of Father Christmas in their advertising - a secret visitor on Dec.24 bringing gifts e.t.c - has in any way changed the Christmas traditions of other countries around the world - i.e the date on which they celebrate christmas, their conception of F.C., their tradition of giving e.t.c.

: : : : I would be most grateful for any information concerning this topic.

: : : : Many Thanks.

: : : :
: : : : p.s.

: : : : I enclose the address of the site proving the original allegation to be a fallacy.

: : : I have little to add, since I have no idea who first used the phrase "Father Christmas." But the article in Snopes.com failed to explain why St. Nick became a Christmas icon. When New Amsterdam was in Dutch hands, the residents looked forward to seeing a special cookie or pastry associated with the Feast of St. Nicholas of Bari. The Dutch in Holland got their cookies right away, on Dec. 6. But those in the New World had to wait until the ships from Holland arrived, after a voyage of about six weeks. They got to Nieuw Amsterdam in time for Christmas, so the residents could toast Santa Claus (as the Dutch for St. Nicolas sounded to foreigners like English-speakers). SS

: : He's better known as St. Nicholas of Myra (4th century) whose body was stolen in the 11th century and brought to Bari in Italy. He was renowned for his charitable works. According to one legend, he heard of a man who's daughter was about to be married but the marriage was in jeopardy because the man was too poor to pay the dowry. On each of two successive nights, Nicholas threw a bag of gold through the kitchen window. The window was shut on the third night so he climbed on the roof and dropped the gold down the chimney.

: The red coat is 'new'. Images of Father Christmas prior to about 1880 all showed him with a green coat. I believe the red was a US introduction, possibly by Coca Cola, but certainly well before the 1930s.

In the poem "A Visit from Saint Nicholas", popularly known by its first line, Clement Clarke Moore describes St. Nicholas as being dressed in red. The poem was written in 1822.

The main contribution made by Coca-Cola advertising to Santa Claus lore was to make him full-sized. Before Coca-Cola came along he was depicted as an elf, able to squeeze down a chimney and ride in a "miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer".