Monday

Who Are You Mr. Claus?

Just about everyone in the world knows that jolly toy-bearing Christmas figure from the North Pole, but how much do we really know about him?

Here are a few quick trivia questions about our beloved Santa brought to you by www.247trivia.com.

Q: Where does the name Santa Claus come from?

A: The name Santa Claus was derived from Sinterklaas, the Dutch term for the ancient Christian figure of Saint Nicholas who was famous for his generosity to the poor (more about him later). The Dutch immigrants to America imported their gift-giving saint to New Amsterdam where he merged with his British counterpart, Father Christmas, to become America's own Santa Claus.

Q: Everyone knows that Santa lives in the North Pole, but where is the real St. Nicholas from?


A: St. Nicholas who many consider to be the inspiration for modern Santa Claus was born in Patara around 275AD. Patara is located in present day Turkey, on the Southern Mediterranean coast in what is today an international tourist resort area where visitors spend hours basking in the warm Mediterranean sun. Certainly not a place you would want to be wearing fur coats in.

Q: If you really wanted to find St. Nicholas today, where would you go looking?

A: You may enjoy a trip to the North Pole, but if you really want to honor St. Nicholas, you would do better by heading towards Italy, where the remains of St. Nicholas are stored in the basilica of St. Nicola in the city of Bari. They have been there since the 11 century when they were, uh… borrowed… from their previous resting place in Myra in present day Turkey.

Q: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer and his companions take Santa on his rounds completely airborne. How is it that reindeer can fly?

A: Many people believe that the tale of flying reindeers (as well as other parts of the Santa story), originates from Lapland in modern day Finland. Some say that in Lapland reindeer had a habit of seeking out the hallucinogenic amanita mushrooms which they ate and then would prance around while under their influence. As these mushrooms are quite toxic, it was regular practice for local shamans to drink the urine of tripping reindeer for a "safe high" and then "fly" together with them. This could also explain the general cheerful disposition (with the "ho ho ho" and all), and the flushed red cheeks of today's Santa.

Q: Where did Santa get his unique outfit?

A: While it's no secret that the marketing people of Coca Cola have a lot to do with the modern image of Santa, some say the roots go way back. The same North European Shamans that liked to consume those red and white mushrooms with their reindeers used to wear quite a similar outfit when they went out to collect their pickings – red and white fur trimmed coats with long black boots. As implied above, it's quite certain that St. Nicholas was no inspiration for this outfit, as he lived in sunny south Turkey.

Q: Who was the first to create Santa's modern image?

A: Coca Cola still uses the iconic images of Santa which were hugely successful in the 30s, and created for it by the gifted artist Haddon Sundblom, an American of Swedish origin (does Northern Europe ring any bells here?). However the modern image of Santa was only finally standardized in his works, but had actually been developing for years before. Coca Cola wasn't even the first beverage company to make commercial use of every child's jolly toy bearing hero – a company called White Rock beverages used him to sell ginger ale and mineral water as early as 1915. However earlier versions wore a wide variety of colors. Coca Cola's Santa is the one the finally set the record straight, and since then Santa has been wearing nothing but Red and White.

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6 comments:

Cindy said...

Very interesting post! My oldest son was asking me just yesterday where the story of Santa Claus came from. (We've never pretended that Santa is real, but of course they hear the name over and over again at Christmas time. As a side note, I'll never forget one day when he [my oldest] was four, a cashier at Wal Mart asked if he was ready for Santa Claus. The child has no sense of humor, by the way. He looked her square in the face and said, "Santa Claus is pretend." She looked so confused. I thought it was hilarious.)

Anyway, I'd never heard that about the, uh, "magic" mushrooms. That just puts a new spin on the whole story, huh?

I told my son (who had asked about the origins of Santa...) about Saint Nicholas (and my son's name is Nicholas, which is funny too...) but I couldn't remember how in the world the name Kris Kringle comes into it. Do you know?

This has got to be the longest, most convoluted comment in history! Sorry!!

Anyway, I've awarded you the Lemonade Award for displaying gratitude on your blog! Come by my blog to pick it up: http://www.fencedinfamily.com/blog/?p=390

Momstart said...

You have great blogs I have no idea how you do so many

Rhonda said...

Thank you for sharing all of this great information. I always enjoy reading about the origins of things. My kids will find this all very interesting!

Daryl said...

Thanks for that. Fascinating history. Love Sundblom's rich colors.

Jean Chia aka Ms.Yummy~licious said...

thanks for the info! :)

DJ said...

Very interesting, I had never heard about the mushrooms either! I knew about the Lapland link but not the reindeer urine high, lol

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