Lights, Camera, Action!
A man in a red suit wearing a matching hat with a white fur trim. You may think he is familiar. This fashion trend all began with a bottle of pop. The billboard advert for a popular product captured the imagination of the nation and the world.
A Coca-Cola advert designed by Clement Clark Moore and Thomas Nast took the fancy of the masses. At the time, a charity wanted to raise some money and constructed a larger-than-life model. Crowds flocked to see it. Later the Salvation Army dressed as Father Christmas’s to give presents to the children to pay for the free Christmas lunches they provided for the poor. This popular trend has continued.
If we look closely at these Christmas traditions around the world, there is often a character to distribute gifts. The names vary across the globe but all have a link to children. From mid-December country-wide rituals have been handed down over the generations.
There are links back to a Saint 2000 years ago, who wanted to help the poor children. Saint Nicholas was a Greek Christian Bishop born in Myra in Lycia (now in modern-day Turkey). He had to disguise his gifts to support the parents who were not willing to accept charity. His ingenuity was second to none. Supporting families in a covert way was a masterly way forward.
Furthermore, stories of calming the seas and miracles gave him notoriety. He rates as the most popular non-biblical Saint around the world. The symbols depicting a sea faring traveller offering a safe journey still exist: a Miter [a pointed Bishop’s hat], a ship, three pots of gold all link to his miraculous stories. Less glitter and glamour than our branding from Coca Cola.
The adaptations and changes range from a goat in Finland Joulupukki, to an old Christmas man in Chile, a couple, Grandfather and Grandmother Frost in Russia linked the Orthodox calendar and Christmas lads in Iceland to name but a few. Even a log depicted as a cartoon image in Catalonia features as the giver of presents.
The names; Père Noël in France to Papai Noel in Brazil resonate with us all. Having all been children once, we have memories of laughter and happy times with our families. Presents to give and receive all added to the joy of Christmas.
Christmas is a Christian tradition that has moved around the globe. Father Christmas began with a tan outfit in the 19th Century due to the dyes available at the time. He took a green suit with a garland of foliage adorning his head, looking like a forest creature with all the sustainable credentials required in the current style trends.
The full beard and wild or long hair goes back in time. From an advertisement lit to attract attention to the current day Father Christmas, Santa Claus and Kris Kringle from the Hollywood screen, this character is larger than life and lives on in our hearts for Christmas’s into our future.