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  • Like a bowlful of jelly!

    by Rohin
    19th December, 2005 at 2:46 pm    

    “Of course Santa Claus is Indian. Think about it yaar, big beard, fat belly, bad suit - INDIAN!”

    Come Christmas Day, I would far rather be nursing an eggnog-induced heart attack than blogging. Hence I thought I’d get festive a little early and give you some background on everyone’s favourite alcoholic mince pie thief. You see, he’s from Asia! Well…Asia Minor.

    St. Nick

    St. Nicholas of Myra was a 4th century Byzantine about whom we do not know a great deal. He lived in what is now Turkey and between 270 and 350 (we think). He has gone down in history as a man famed for giving gifts to the poor, whilst always maintaining anonymity. The most famous legend to surround St. Nick is that of a man so poor he had no choice but to sell his daughters into prostitution as he could raise no dowry. Umm…yeah that’s what I’ll be doing when I get hard up. Anyway, the father-of-three prepared to sell his eldest to the street. St. Nick got word and under the guise of night, threw a bag of gold through the man’s window. The overjoyed man ran out of the house to see who the benevolent giver was in the morning, but St. Nick was long gone. He paid her dowry and she got married off.

    The message was clear. Pretend to make your daughter a hooker and get gold. So the man did it again, some time later. Once again Nick left him gold and she got herself a fella. When it was the youngest daughter’s turn, the man waited in the shadows. When the gold came through the window, he sprinted after Nick and caught him, so that he could thank him. Nick was upset and made him promise never to reveal his identity. The man swore a solemn oath. But somehow the whole town knew about St. Nick’s kindness within a week.

    I would like to take this opportunity to make the worst joke of my entire life to date. If the man hadn’t been saved by St. Nick, how would you have referred to his three daughters? Ho ho ho!

    St. Nicholas died some time later and at the time of his burial, his fame was minor and limited only to the local area. Little did anyone know what fate would posthumously await him.

    Today St. Nick is the patron saint of seamen, merchants, archers, children, prostitutes, pharmacists, lawyers, pawnbrokers, prisoners, the city of Amsterdam and of Russia. Why the FUCK do lawyers need a patron saint?! He is also celebrated as a festive gift-giver, bringing happiness to millions of children, under several different names.

    In much of Europe, St. Nick retains his original name, whereas in Britain and America he is more commonly referred to as a corruption of the Dutch Sint Nicolaas >> Sinterklaas >> Santa Claus. Some facets of the Saint Nicholas tradition in mainland Europe can be traced back to the Germanic god Wodan (Odin). Odin rode through the sky and had diminuitive assistants called the Zwarte Pieten (Black Peters) which may be inspired by the black raven that accompanied Wodan. It may also be a reference to African slaves.

    Martin Luther was the first to combine St. Nicholas (a canonised saint) with the Christkindlein (Christ child) in order to ‘Protestantise’ the figure. Despite having a devout bishop as inspiration, the secular Santa Claus was free of the Christianity associated with St. Nicholas. Hence his popularity has spread far and wide, especially across Asia.

    Sinister Folklore

    Some stories tell of a darker side to the fairy tale. Germanic tribes would tell of St. Nick having a nemesis, a demon called Krampus. He would crawl down chimneys and disembowel children and stuff them in his sack to eat later. St. Nick would chase the demon and make him deliver presents as repentence. Wikipedia has this disturbing passage:

    But for many children, Nikolaus also elicited fear, as he was often accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, who would threaten to beat, or sometimes actually eat the children for misbehaviour. Knecht Rupert furthermore was equipped with goatlegs. In Switzerland, where he is called Schmutzli, he would threaten to put bad children in a sack and take them back to the Black Forest. In other accounts he would throw the sack into the river, drowning the naughty children within. These traditions were implemented more rigidly in Catholic countries such as Austria. In highly Catholic regions, the local priest was informed by the parents about their children’s behaviour and would then personally visit the homes in the traditional Christian garment and threaten them with rod-beatings. In parts of Austria, Krampusse, whom local tradition says are Nikolaus’s helpers (in reality, typically children of poor families), roamed the streets during the festival. They wore masks and dragged chains behind them, even occasionally hurling them towards children in their way. These Krampusläufe (Krampus runs) still exist, although perhaps less violent than in the past.

    Modern Santa

    Much in the way other countries amalgamated St. Nicholas with their native childrens’ gift-givers, Brits rolled him into the pagan character of Father Christmas (derived from Norse mythology), which created the classic Santa we see across most of the English-speaking world. An urban legend exists that Coca-Cola was responsible for inventing the Santa we know today and despite not being true, Coca Cola has had a long and close association with Santa Claus as their unofficial frontman.

    The American Santa Claus was initially depicted wearing a green coat but he appeared in several different colours before red finally became a firm choice. This was largely due to the art of two men, Thomas Nast and Haddon Sundblom, the second of whom was responsible for the Coca Cola advertising. The famous and anonymous poem, The Night Before Christmas, gave rise to the image of Santa as having “a broad face and a big round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!” It was also the first time all eight of Santa’s reindeers were named.

    In case I don’t get the chance to say it again, Merry Christmas everyone!

    Futurama's Santabot

    “Ho ho ho! I’m dreaming of a red X-mas!”

                  Post to

    Filed in: Culture,Religion

    12 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs

    1. El Cid — on 19th December, 2005 at 3:31 pm  

      Merry Christmas Rohin!
      And, not forgetting the Jesus bit, goodwill to all men and women.

    2. Col. Mustafa — on 19th December, 2005 at 3:41 pm  

      Interesting read.
      Happy Chrithhhmathhh.

    3. Vikrant — on 19th December, 2005 at 3:56 pm  

      Well they might have outsourced Santa to India, but gifts are outsourced from China. But who cares.

      Merry Christmas.

    4. Leslie — on 19th December, 2005 at 5:18 pm  

      Actually the more I think about it, he sounds more like my rabbi from New York.

      The beard, overweight, outfit etc.


    5. j0nz — on 19th December, 2005 at 6:18 pm  

      Jesus? Indian!

    6. Don — on 19th December, 2005 at 7:13 pm  

      God (?) bless us, every one.

    7. fotzepolitic — on 19th December, 2005 at 11:07 pm  

      Don’t forget the sketch where the bhangramuffins discuss how the 3 wise men were really Punjabi — showing up uninvited, wearing turbans and bringing crap presents. And “we three Singhs of Orient are…” ;)

      Being that I’m Amrikan, I leave you with this Californian attempt at an xmas song:

      Cheech: (Playing piano) Mama, mamacita, donde esta Santa Cleese…the vecto wit da bony knees…he comin’ down da street wit no choos on his feet…and he’s going to…No, no, that ain’t it…Mamamacita, donde esta Santa Claus…da guy wit da hair on his jaws…he’s…Nah.

    8. kismet hardy — on 21st December, 2005 at 1:06 pm  

      I remember the first time I was going to have a proper christmas meal (as opposed to the Asian ones that came with curried veg and gravy).

      While they carved the turkey and served up the chippolatas wrapped in bacon, my then girlfriend’s deeply Daily Mail parents served me up a Sainsbury’s onion bhaji for one as starters, followed by a Sainsbury’s tikka masala as main course.

      I still find it hard to go to Sainsbury’s

    9. Pocahontas — on 22nd December, 2005 at 12:56 pm  

      Seasonal Felicitations to you all, I put my huge size 8 in it again and invited around NINE people for Christmas lunch and the irony is I can’t even make tea….

      I have already stocked up on frozen delights from Pizza Express.

    10. Rohin — on 22nd December, 2005 at 3:13 pm  

      kismet, pokey…we’ve been invaded by AiMers, ewww!

      You have HUGE size 8 feet? As in, not normal size 8, but HUGE size 8. Is that then…size 9?

      Yam’s playing Santy Claus today. No jokes about children please.

    11. Pocahontas — on 22nd December, 2005 at 3:32 pm  

      SANTY Claus? Who is he??

      And I was actually looking for you Hippo, after many an investigation, found you to be residing here.

      Leave my feet alone, they are 8 and a HALF, thank you.

    12. Rohin — on 22nd December, 2005 at 6:40 pm  

      Santy Claus, that’s how cute American kids say Santa Claus. Or occasionally Sanny Claus!

      Aw, sho shweet.

      I thought I was far less anti-Xmas this year, I hadn’t had my normal Scrooge attack. But then the carol singers came. I sang back at them out the window. Just two words though.

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