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Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'

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CapriUni 23 Nov 04 - 09:46 AM
CapriUni 23 Nov 04 - 09:34 AM
PoppaGator 23 Nov 04 - 02:04 AM
chris nightbird childs 23 Nov 04 - 12:10 AM
Rustic Rebel 23 Nov 04 - 12:08 AM
CapriUni 22 Nov 04 - 06:08 PM
CapriUni 22 Nov 04 - 06:00 PM
PoppaGator 22 Nov 04 - 05:50 PM
Dani 22 Nov 04 - 05:35 PM
CapriUni 22 Nov 04 - 02:03 PM
CapriUni 29 Dec 02 - 09:58 AM
CapriUni 29 Dec 02 - 07:58 AM
Micca 29 Dec 02 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Q 28 Dec 02 - 09:40 PM
CapriUni 28 Dec 02 - 09:36 PM
skarpi 28 Dec 02 - 09:21 PM
skarpi 28 Dec 02 - 09:16 PM
GUEST,Q 28 Dec 02 - 07:18 PM
CapriUni 28 Dec 02 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,Q 28 Dec 02 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Q 28 Dec 02 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Q 28 Dec 02 - 03:06 PM
wilco 28 Dec 02 - 01:19 PM
CapriUni 28 Dec 02 - 11:39 AM
GaryDon 28 Dec 02 - 10:42 AM
CapriUni 27 Dec 02 - 10:00 PM
katlaughing 27 Dec 02 - 06:49 PM
wilco 27 Dec 02 - 06:02 PM
CapriUni 27 Dec 02 - 11:51 AM
Mark Cohen 27 Dec 02 - 04:57 AM
GUEST,Nerd 26 Dec 02 - 11:25 PM
GUEST 26 Dec 02 - 10:40 PM
CapriUni 26 Dec 02 - 06:39 PM
GaryDon 26 Dec 02 - 01:59 PM
GUEST,Nerd 26 Dec 02 - 01:41 PM
Mrs.Duck 26 Dec 02 - 12:47 PM
curmudgeon 25 Dec 02 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 25 Dec 02 - 01:58 PM
CapriUni 25 Dec 02 - 01:40 PM
Little Hawk 25 Dec 02 - 01:22 PM
CapriUni 25 Dec 02 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,Q 25 Dec 02 - 07:39 AM
Bob Bolton 25 Dec 02 - 05:40 AM
*daylia* 25 Dec 02 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Q 25 Dec 02 - 12:43 AM
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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 09:46 AM

Rustic Rebel --

Your figurres sound beautiful! Do you have pictures of them online somewhere?

Personally, I wouldn't mind red, as it is such a bright color at such a dark time of year, but it is such a cliche by now... and not a very practical color for someone climbing up and down chimneys all night. ;-)

And when I was growing up, we had a wooden Santa figure (2-d, modern design) that my mother had bought in Denmark, that was dressed in a blue coat. He did have red flowers embroidered on his mittens, though. :-)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 09:34 AM

I'm sure we always partook of the swine. Lotsa mutton, too, and yes, eventually, poultry of all kinds.

Are you familiar with Terry Pratchet's Discworld series? If not (and for those readers of this thread who are not) "Discworld" is a paralell world -- and spoof -- of Earth (Britain), with magic and and overload of puns and wierdness.

Anyway, in this world, the "Father Christmas" figure is called "Hogfather," and his sleigh, like Freyr's chariot, is pulled by boars -- only by now, they are the overly-fat, snorting, domestic kind.

I am not overly familiar with the series, but a friend sent me a copy of the novel Hogfather for Christmas, a few years ago.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 02:04 AM

3/4 of ancestors from Ireland, other 1/4 German-Alsatian.

I'm sure we always partook of the swine. Lotsa mutton, too, and yes, eventually, poultry of all kinds.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 12:10 AM

He was a nice bloke to me for a couple years. For the rest he was a...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 23 Nov 04 - 12:08 AM

CapriUni, I very much enjoyed your essay. Thank-you. You are a wonderful writer.

Going back to the colors of Santa, the Santa's I make from clay, I paint in several colors. Greens, browns, golds, blues and reds. I think it's unfortunate but my biggest sellers are the santas painted red so although I prefer the other colors, I paint a majority in red.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 06:08 PM

Poppagator:

To me, it's mostly about peace and love, poultry and alcohol. I'm sure that my pre-Christian Yule-celebrating ancestors would agree.

Well, if your ancestors were from the lands of the Norse (and possibly Celts), there's a good chance that pork would stand in for Poultry... The wild boar being the creature that pulls Freyr's chariot, and from whom, it is said (don't ask me who said it -- just a vague memory from a high school Latin class), humans got the idea to start plowing the earth.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 06:00 PM

Dani --

It already is separate, actually... "Yule" is the night of the Winter Solstice -- a few days before Christmas (Unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case, Yule is in June). The precise moment of the solstice will be at 7:42 am, Eastern Daylight (& Mudcat) Time, this year. (2:42 am, GMT)

Personally, I don't mind sharing... after all, most Christians continue to use the Pagan names for the days of the week, and months of the year. If we can share 364 days with no problem, why not share the 365th?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 05:50 PM

Dani, don't wait for someone else to "separate" the aspects of this holiday for you. Ain't gonna happen. Please just enjoy whatever you please and ignore the rest.


Part of the "meanin' of the season" that everyone should be able to agree upon is GOODWILL TO ALL. Tolerating a wide disparity of beliefs would certainly be an element of such goodwill.

To me, it's mostly about peace and love, poultry and alcohol. I'm sure that my pre-Christian Yule-celebrating ancestors would agree.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Dani
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 05:35 PM

And thank you, Skarpi, for the great link! It's fun to learn about Iceland and traditions there. I truly hope to visit someday. Can you tell us something about how your family and friends celebrate winter holidays?


Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could separate the Yule/Solstice holidays from the Christian holiday of Christmas, so everyone could celebrate what they want to? Who do we have to see about that?

Dani


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 Nov 04 - 02:03 PM

Next Saturday (November 27, 2004) is The Art Garden*,and the theme is "Flight." I was inspired to write an essay based on the ideas discussed in this thread, so I thought I'd share it here.

Father Christmas, Father Wind
By Ann Magill


There is one summer day firmly embedded in the memory of my childhood. I'm lying on my back in our front yard, the sun-warmed earth beneath me, the scent of grasses and the drone of insects filling the still air. I'm gazing upward, where the sky is its deepest blue. For a moment, I get a sense of vertigo, and can almost feel the Earth spinning. Then, I hear the wind approach across the tops of the trees - hear their leaves rustling as it passes over them - first, far away, then closer, and closer, until the wind is over me, swooping down to brush past my ears and over my face.

I knew then, as I know now - the wind is alive. My Classroom Self nods reasonably at talk of barometric pressure and land masses. But my Feeling Self knows different: that the wind is not simply air moving, but a person. It's not human - nothing like those figures with puffed out cheeks and clouds for hair in the corners of old maps. But it's a person, nonetheless: a being far more ancient than I, who moves through the air as a whale moves through the sea, a companion to the birds in flight, flying with them - Father Wind.

Over the years, I've learned I am not alone in my feeling. Just as Mother Nature is personified in the mountains around the world, Father Nature is personified in the wind and storms. Mother Nature provides the stability that allows life to grow; Father Nature brings the change that allows life to flourish. This Father has been given many names: Shiva of the Hindu, Thor of the Norse, Jupiter of the Romans, and . . . Santa Claus.

The Santa we know today is quite tame. They keep him corralled in a simulated environment at the center of the mall. But he wasn't always so domestic. In centuries past, before Halloween became an occasion for parties, the tingly thrill of fear was wrapped up in Christmas, alongside the joy. And the gift-giving Nicholas didn't always wear the title of "Saint." In some German towns he was known as "Rough Claus" or "Furry Nicholas," and seemed just as ready to eat the naughty children as to give the good ones treats. Even today, many of us leave out gingerbread in the shapes of little boys and little girls, and hope that he will be pleased with our offering.

Such is the way with Nature. Live well within the balance of things - giving what you can, and taking no more than you need - and the gifts of Nature are without end. But if you are greedy, or careless, Nature will not hesitate to devour you.

So who else can Santa Claus be, but Father Nature - Father Wind - in disguise? Sweeping down from the North Pole and visiting every house on a single night is a tricky feat even for a saint with the power of magic. But there is no place on Earth that the wind does not blow. He sees you when you're sleeping - he knows when you're awake. He comes down chimneys and flies up them again. He brings the change of seasons, and he carries in the New Year. His wild-wind nature has endured longer than any other of his fiercer aspects, even after he shrank from cannibal to jolly elf. Here is how Clement Clarke Moore described his arrival 160 years ago:

"As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the housetop, his coursers they flew,
with a sleigh full of toys, and Saint Nicholas, too."

And after Nicholas finished his work there, they all flew away "like the down of a thistle."

These days, Santa's flight is almost as domesticated as he is - his sleigh arcs through the sky like a jet, or a helicopter with 32 legs, parks itself on our roofs, and takes off just as neatly.

Perhaps this domestication is, in itself, a clue to Nicholas's true identity. It wasn't too long ago that winter was a time of dread. The chances were slim that everyone around the table at the Harvest Feast would live to see the planting in the spring. Now our homes are warm and our refrigerators are well stocked. Nature, like Santa Claus, has become a thing of sentimentality.

But even surrounded by spray-painted snow and Astroturf lawn, there is something awe inspiring about Santa Claus. If you visit his habitat at the mall this year, watch the youngest children who come to see him. They know he is not cuddly. Perhaps they sense he is a being even more powerful than their parents. Perhaps it is time we learn from them.

This year, as we prepare for Nicholas's visit, let's not worry about crying or pouting, but whether we are generous and gentle of spirit. Let us remember that everything we give - even the things shrink-wrapped in plastic - come from the Earth, and to the Earth will return. On Christmas Eve, when we dream of Nicholas's midnight flight, let's give him all the freedom of the wind to dive and race, and soar, to rattle our windows, and crack his whip at our cheeks. For we are what we dream. And he is our Father…
---------


*"The Art Garden" is a sort of "Literary Magazine for the Stage." The editor/Mistress of Ceremonies sends out a theme to a select group of writers, who then each create something on that theme (usually essays or poems, but there are also a few songs, and occasionally, skits) and send it back to the editor, who arranges them all so that the theme is coherently developed.

Then, instead of having our work printed and mailed to subscribers, we all meet at a small theater.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 29 Dec 02 - 09:58 AM

And let us not forget the Wild Women who are gift bringers, either...

In Italy, it's the witch la Befana, flying on her broom, that brings candy and treats to children at Epiphany (January 6). Here is a webpage all about her done by M. Hos-McGrane's fifth grade class. (I think they did a lot better than some of the adults who put pages up about the same thing).

And in Germany/Northern France there are the three sisters Frau Berchta, Frau Trude, and Frau Holle... Oftentimes, these three are depicted as ogresses who will eat children up.

But according to an article in Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, Frau Berchta is also the guardian of the souls of all the children who died unbabtised, and on the night of Epiphany, she gives them all the form of geese, and leads them on a wild flight through the skies. The farmers' fields that they pass over are blessed and will bear a double harvest the following year.

Personally, I think this is the archetypal origin of Mother Goose -- a witchlike figure who looks after children, often seen riding a flying goose, and holding aloft a golden goose egg (reborn sun). But I have not seen this theory expressed anywhere else. Usually, all theories assume that Mother Goose began in the life of a historical woman -- though it is interesting that some popular folk histories (generally dismissed by professional historians) say that the first Mother Goose was one Queen Bertha of France. ;-)

And then, there is the story of Frau Holle, from the Brothers Grimm, in which a poor, abused stepdaughter, in order to excape the wrath of her stepmother leaps into a well. When she comes to, she finds herself in a sort of Paradise watched over by the witchy (but in this story, kind) Frau Holle. When the girl leaves Frau Holle, she is rewarded with a shower of gold (literally), and returns to the world golden herself from head to toe. The family rooster is the first to announce her coming.

Now, if that's not a tale for Winter Solstice/Yule, I don't know what is!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 29 Dec 02 - 07:58 AM

I was thinking of Herne, actually, but as I don't have any source material that mentions him directly, I didn't want to make any claims I couldn't back up...

So, why don't you say a few words? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Micca
Date: 29 Dec 02 - 07:08 AM

Capri Uni, in the "Wild Man" References above you havent mentioned the Archetypical Celtic Wild man, with both the Foliage and Horns, leader of the Wild Hunt, associated with Trees and a Force of Nature by all accounts,

Herne!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 09:40 PM

Thanks, skarpi. Very interesting.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 09:36 PM

Thank you, Skarpi!

What a fun site... here is the same url, blickified: Yulelads


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: skarpi
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 09:21 PM

Try this side, www.isholf.is/gardarj/yule5.htm

and you will find somthing about them.
all the best skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: skarpi
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 09:16 PM

Halló all , I see you are talking about santa , you have one but
here In Iceland we have 13 santas and they start coming
13 days before christmas , one at the time ( one each day )
and they all have their own names.How old they are I have no knowledge at the moment but I will find out.All the Best Skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 07:18 PM

I right-clicked and saved a couple of the illustrations. The 1870s-1880s had competing images of the gift-bearer.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 06:33 PM

Thanks for the link, Q!

Scrolling down the page after the search results came up led me to this illustration. While not by Nast, I think it conveys the sense of Santa Claus as leader of the Wild Hunt, with that wild throng stretching out behind him... The title, according to the link on the Philaprintshop page is: "The Course of Time".


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 03:49 PM

Print dealer changing website, post-Christmas. The images are still there, just enter Nast Santa Claus in "Search" and check Philaprintshop in right-hand box


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 03:43 PM

The goat is seemingly Scandanavian.
One web site says the red-robed Santa came from Coca-Cola advertising in the 1930s, but I have his image from 1906 onwards on postcards. The Nast illustrations from Harper's Weekly show his imperial plumpness with bushy white beard and wide belt, typical of today's Santa except his garment looks more like a union suit. Santa Claus
Illustrations from 1870s-1880s.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 03:06 PM

It seems that the red-suited Santa Claus stems from drawings by Thomas Nast for Harper's Weekly. I believe that these were not colored in the magazine. Would like to know where the first colored image of Santa in a red suit appeared.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: wilco
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 01:19 PM

Capriuni, you are amazing. thanks!!!!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 11:39 AM

As a connection between the two I found it iteresting that the Green man handed over the death throws of nature to the Wild man for the sleep of the winter.

Yes... in some Neo-Pagan traditions, this is represented by a battle between the Holly King (the personification of the waning sun) and the Oak King (the personification of the waxin sun). In this battle, the Holly King is killed (like when Gawain beheads the Green Knight), but the battle will be fought again at Midsummer -- and the outcome of the battle will be reversed.

This ritual of the sacrifice and death of the Holly King has been played out in the tradition of Saint Stephen's day carolling, in which bands of boys go from house to house with a newly killed wren ("the king of all birds") or a wren effigy, asking for money and treats. The Wren Song, in particular, makes a pretty clear connection between the small bird and the Holly King, in this verse:

Rolley, Rolley, where is your nest?
It's in the bush that I love best
It's in the bush, the holly tree
Where all the boys do follow me

(no tune in the DT, but it scans nicely to "Here we go 'round the mulberry bush")

And the connection between the baby Jesus and the triumphant Oak King is at least suggested in this round from the Pammelia (1609):

Oaken leaves, in the merry wood so wild,
when will you grow green-a?
Mary maid, and thou be with child,
"Lullaby" mayst thou sing-a.
"Lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby."
"Lullaby" mayst thou sing-a.

I've seen it with two different melodies -- one from a library book that I don't have at the moment, and the other, from a 1940's book of rounds for children, just sounds thoroughly and utterly (as in "fingernails on a blackboard" utterly) wrong.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GaryDon
Date: 28 Dec 02 - 10:42 AM

Thank you for the references of the old Wild and Green man. I was unaware of the region which the Green man had roamed, not suprised. As a connection between the two I found it iteresting that the Green man handed over the death throws of nature to the Wild man for the sleep of the winter.

Gary®


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 10:00 PM

CU, this site looks as though it draws from the same source as your original post. I notice it says the Wild Man is more Dionysian than the Green, interesting stuff, all of this!

Yes... Ms. Siefker points out that Dionysus is one of the more ancient forms of Wild Man (I think "Wild Man" is more a term for a type of supernatural being rather than one specific figure -- like the term "sun god" ... Apollo and Ra are both sun gods, for example ... the Green Knight and Dionysus are both Wild Men).

Uncle Homer?!? So Santa is going to morph to round and yellow as a beach ball?! Ewwww! **BG**

Well, the name of the Simpson family dog is "Santa's Little Helper" ... Coincidence? Maybe... maybe not. ;-)

Speaking of morphing, though: I think that just the fact that Nicholas has gone from bogey man to frighten children to gentle old uncle that everyone wants to have in their family is just more evidence that he does represent the force of Nature.

Way back in the days when these traditions were first focused on by the lens of history, winter was a harsh and deadly time, and it was rare that every family member who saw the last harvest feast would see the next new planting -- the very old and the very young were both liable to die. It is thoroughly understandable then, that the personification of Winter's power was seen as equally deadly and fickle.

Now that we have central heating and cooling, and supermarkets and refrigeration, we see nature not as a threat, but as the generous provider of all our bounty. And Santa, still the personifican of that power, has likewise changed in our eyes... Though if you've ever been to 'Santa Land' in any mall recently, you know that small children are still frightened of him -- perhaps they recognize instictively that he represents a force even bigger than their parents....


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 06:49 PM

CU, this site looks as though it draws from the same source as your original post. I notice it says the Wild Man is more Dionysian than the Green, interesting stuff, all of this! please click here.

Uncle Homer?!? So Santa is going to morph to round and yellow as a beach ball?! Ewwww! **BG**


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: wilco
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 06:02 PM

I wonder if "folklore" is the name we give "popular culture" of times past. Its intersting to follow the transformation of non-religious personages and festivals into (respectively) religious/cultural icons or religious liturgical occasions.
    In five hundred years, some semi-pedantic sorts like us will be wondering where exactly Santa Claus became a ceature called Uncle Homer Simpson. Dahhhhh!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 11:51 AM

Well, it was a music thread from the beginning, Mark (at least inside my own head ;-)), since I put it up in protest of the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town".

(and "Trading places" is one of my favorite comedies, especially in that scene in the subway, when they are all "going undercover")

And as for a specific "Green man" figure associated with the winter gift-giving or child-eating being*, as I understand it, the specific icon of the man-with-leafy-vegetation-for-hair is the summer aspect of the wild man -- taking that form for the spring and summer rituals -- and that the Green man as such wouldn't be around at the end of December... though in this book I cited from at the beginning of this thread, there are several reproductions of the gift-giver figure with horns...


*just thought of this: could this be the origin of the gingerbread man tradition: leaving little edible effigies of children to appease the gift-giver, so he won't eat the real ones?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 27 Dec 02 - 04:57 AM

Santa Claus as wild man...well, I just watched one of my favorite movies, "Trading Places," and Dan Ackroyd does a pretty good version of just that!

Aloha,
Mark
(Many scenes in the movie were filmed in the area around Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, where I lived when I was a pediatrics resident. And one of the buildings that appears prominently in one of the early scenes is the Curtis Institute of Music--see, it's a musical thread after all!)


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 11:25 PM

As one of "the folklorists" I can say to Guest: The Green Man IS Celtic, although he is also Germanic, Mediterranean, etc. The Green Man seems to have been around for a very long time, so that the Celts had echoes of both Green Men and Wild Men in their mythologies eg. Annwn and Hafgan in Wales, Cernunnos among the Gauls, etc. But you're quite right that the Green man is neither in origin nor in essence Celtic. It is more primeval than that.

As to Mickey Mouse, well, his name IS Mick...

Of course, Robin Hood is a funny example because the English do the exact same thing with him that Celtic fans do with other lore. Lots of people view RH as a quintessesntial Anglo-Saxon, when Robin is a thoroughly Norman name!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 10:40 PM

So the Green Man is "Celtic" now, is he? That'll be news to the folklorists. Who's next for that honour, I wonder... Robin Hood? Mickey Mouse?


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 06:39 PM

Have you come accross any remote references to the Green Man of Celtic lore that would be of any connection.

I do seem to remember coming across some references somewhere, some time ago... but I'd have to look through my bookshelves for awhile to be sure my memory isn't just playing tricks on me...

I'll probably look later tonight, and get back to this thread...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GaryDon
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 01:59 PM

CapriUni - AS you mentioned the Wild Man. Have you come accross any remote references to the Green Man of Celtic lore that would be of any connection. Especially considering Green Man also symbolizes rebirth and regeneration??

courious associaton I had noticed

Gary®


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Nerd
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 01:41 PM

In Pennsylvania communities, we had a tradition called Belsnickling, derived from the Pelznichol, which was something like English mumming. Belsnicklers were dressed in wools and furs, and came to the house demanding food and drink. It was, as someone commented above, very much like Halloween.

In fact, trick or treat and caroling are both variants of a common seasonal custom of quetes--i.e., traveling around the countryside "begging" for food. People were oblgated to give food, and sometimes threatened if they did not give any. Think of the verses to we wish you a merry christmas: "now bring us some figgy pudding, and bring it right here!/we won't go until we get some, so brng it right here, etc. These are demands, not polite requests, much like "trick or treat!" In colonial Massachusetts, Christmas was outlawed, partly because the puritans dominated, but partly also because carollers smashed windows and attacked houses with rocks if they were not appeased.

Another great corruption of PA German traditions is the name kris kringle. This was derived from the protestant PA Dutch (which in Pennsylvania means German), who did not like the idea of a saint bringing gifts. They instead claimed that the Christ Child ("Krist Kindle") visited houses. This got imported into the Santa legend as Santa's name!

It is too simplistic to say the Santa "originated" in Pelznichol, however. Remember, just like the Dutch in NY, the PA Germans were protestants: Lutheran, Amish, Mennonite, and many other sects. They were equally opposed to saint worship. Also, the English Father Christmas and other traditions were heavily influential, as was the historical Character of St. Nicholas who was, as someone hinted above, a Bishop in what is now Turkey, but became a popular patron saint for many communities. Nevertheless, the "wild man" and "green man" themes are clarly part of Santa's history and his appeal!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 26 Dec 02 - 12:47 PM

Father Christmas as he was always known by me as a child (Santa being an import from USA in later years) is starting to appear in different colours in the shops here again. I have seen green and silver mainly but also blue and gold. I always thought of him as the spirit of the magic of Christmas and therefore have never felt the need to stop beleiving!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: curmudgeon
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 02:49 PM

Santas in different colored attire were once common. Many postcards from the years before WWI are illustrative of this: green, blue, brown, red, and even black. The non-red Santas, especially those produced by Tuck of England, are highly sought after by collectors and can easily fetch $20.00 or more, depending on condition.

Then again, is it possible thaat Santa Claus is Karl Marx in a red suit? That would explain the common color -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 01:58 PM

Read somewhere that the name Sinter Klaus was of Dutch origin. Something about a Bishop that predated the fat Santa.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 01:40 PM

Very interesting theory, LH, except for the fact that 'Claus himself (in all his guises) only promised one elf-made toy, one orange and one handful of nuts to each good recipient -- and one birch branch for each bad recipient.

And the E.L.F-G.L.O (Elven Labor Foundation - Global Light Orgainization) does not trade on any of the world's stock markets.

And as for the other items distributed, well, Oranges, Nuts and Birch Branches really do grow on trees.

Now, as for the excess, I believe the blame really does lie with the capitalists like those early Coca-Cola executives. After all, they endeavored to change 'Claus's coat color to red instead of green, because they believed (and still do believe, it seems) that only money should bear that color, and that they should be in control of it...


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 01:22 PM

The real truth is, Santa Claus was created by the Communist Party, in hopes that the legend would drive the capitalist system to such excesses of frivolous spending that it would cause it to self-destruct within 3 or 4 generations of mindless overproduction and overconsumption.

The only flaw in this plan was that the Communist system itself self-destructed FIRST, due to other causes entirely.

Thus the Soviets will not be around to celebrate the consummation of this grisly plan for world domination, which, given all indicators, will probably play itself out to the final catastrophe within the next 20 years, give or take a few... :-)

The question is, who will pick up the pieces afterwards?

- LH


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 08:42 AM

Unfortunately, I have one of those newer, compact scanners, and a newer, not-very-well-bound book...

I think my attitude toward "Santa" (though now that I think of it, calling him "Santa" is rather like calling him "Mister" -- it's his title, not his first name) started with my mother.

She cringed at the song "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", especially when she overheard a grown-up saying to a cranky or impatient child: "Now, be good -- or Santa won't bring you anything!"

As she put it: "Santa Claus is the personification of Love, and you don't withold love, or even threaten to, just because someone bisbehaves!" And she was right...

But there's another side to the coin: You get back from the universe what you give to it. If you're miserly and greedy, and don't give anything away, than you won't get anything back... nothing to do with witholding love. It's just a force of nature, like painful things happening when you disrespect gravity ;-)

Well, I need breakfast... I'll be back!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 07:39 AM

Thanks for the clarification on scanners. I have a so-called photographic scanner and it has trememdous "depth." As you say, books should be treated carefully. Much depends on the binding. Well-bound (not modern) books will stay open at at a page. Most modern books won't open fully unless you smash them.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 05:40 AM

G'day GUEST,Q and CapriUni,

Whether you can scan in depth depends upon the type of inmaging system in the flatbed scanner. The older, deeper, styles use a lens system and can be used for a number of "photographic" tasks. I normally have a box, larger than the plattern and i use suitable coloured sheets of paper for backgrounds.

The newer compact flatbeds - the thin ones, no more than 50mm deep, used a CCD cluster for imagine - but only work on close objects and image. Ultimately, you need to test the results, but the deeper, older ones do the 'deepest' images.

Anyway, either one can scan in flat art from books - as long as the book can be helf reasonably flat on the plattern without damaging the binding. Fragile old books should be professionally imaged - but they are the exception, not the rule.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: *daylia*
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 05:33 AM

Ho ho ho - thanks so much, Capri! A very Merry Christmas to all ...

daylia


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 12:43 AM

Just noticed something in your posts, CapriUni. I have a flatbed scanner. I put opened books on it. The page does not have to be flat against the glass. I use it to make record photos of jewelry, Indian moccasins and all sorts of things. I take the lid off if it is in the way and use a large sheet of white paper over all. A most useful gadget!


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 12:30 AM

Sounds like a lovely picture. After the holidays I plan to look for more old illustrations in a good used book store here. Local library no good, they periodically throw out the old to make room for the new.
I have the fat old fellow in red on postcards from about 1905 on, so I need the period ca. 1880-1900.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: katlaughing
Date: 25 Dec 02 - 12:18 AM

Great thread, CU!! I love your idea for a lawn Santa, esp. the holly around his head!! I'll have to dig around in my books, now, and see if any of the old ones have some info on any of this.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 11:53 PM

Unfortunately, I only have a flatbed scanner, or I'd scan some of the wonderful illustrations from this book.

My favorite has to be "Old Christmas" (From a book printed in 1888). He's riding in on a great shaggy goat with long horns, and his head is crowned in a wild mass of holly leaves. In his right hand, he's holding a steaming wassail bowl, while a basket of wine and bread is slung over his left arm -- and in the crook of his left arm, dressed in a flowing christening gown and bonnet, is the baby New Year...

Talk about having your hands full!

He seems jolly enough about it, though...

Wonder what my Babtist/Catholic neighbors would think if I put that sort of thing on the front lawn! :::Wicked Grin:::


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 11:24 PM

I have reproduced, on some of my cards. a full page picture of "Old King Christmas" from the Canadian Illustrated News, Dec. 23, 1876. He is shown as a rather regal fellow, well-nourished but not fat, a long staff in hir right hand and a charger filled with fruit in his left, with two attractive, apparently female young attendants, one holding plum pudding and other foods. A handsome turkey stands by the left foot of King Christmas (surely a Canadian substitute for the English goose).
I am trying to find out who created the current fat, red-robed Santa Claus, the candidate for an apoplectic stroke, from the various contributing figures, King Christmas, Father Christmas, the large elf shown by Nast, and St. Nick (someone has suggested a Coca-Cola illustration, but I don't know).
The poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas," by C. C. Moore, printed in a little paperback booklet (1823), was illustrated by the Dutch printer Onderdonk. An elf was shown driving the sleigh. The Dutch associations first came forward from his illustrations. In 1860, Nast printed an illustration of a large, jolly old elf in Harper's Weekly. I have not seen this illustration.
Some of the story here: www.christmas.com/pe/1379: First Santa

CapriUni is correct, St. Nick didn't get to North America until the floods of immigrants came after the American Revolution, Catholic Dutch with them.


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Subject: RE: Pagan thoughts on 'Santa Claus'
From: CapriUni
Date: 24 Dec 02 - 10:17 PM

From Penny:

But they do have St Nicholas in the Netherlands, with a rather odd dark creature called Black Peter, I think. So there is a connection with the Dutch. He goes round in a bishop's gear.

Yes, there is. For the Catholic Dutch, Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of their homeland... But those people weren't the ones who emigrated to the Americas, so they weren't the source of the American version of Santa Claus. Besides, the old Dutch version of Saint Nicholas has about as much jollity in him as that Dickens schoolmaster, Creakle. However:

with a rather odd dark creature called Black Peter

Ms. Siefker sees many more similarities between this figure and our modern "Santa Claus" than between "Santa" and Nicholas. After all, he's the one that has a sack slung across his back, and leaps around laughing madly and making funny faces to scare the children. Because the person playing "Black Pete" blackened his face with burnt cork, and often had a chain about his neck held onto by the Saint, some have interpreted him as being the African slave owned by the historical Nicholas who was later canonized.

But she points out numerous bits of evidence that he's the representation of the Wild Man as Smith, whose face is blackened with soot because he tends the Fires of Life -- and that this is the reason Morris dancers blacken their faces with cork (a practice that most probably went back much further in time than the Christian defeat of the Moors), and is also the source of the superstitian that it's good luck to shake hands with a chimney sweep.

(P. L. Travers, who wrote the Mary Poppins books, was/is also a student in Pre-Christian European religious beliefs, and she gave Mary Poppins many Goddess attributes -- including a chimney sweep/trickster for a beau).

...And as I'm writing this, I've been getting ideas for how to make an alternative "Santa Claus" to stick on my front lawn next year... as an antidote to all those ubiquitous red-and-white plastic Santas...

Hmmm: A patchwork / rag & tatter coat of mostly greens and goldy-browns (Cut from plastic garbage bags, perhaps?), with a head and face carved from a big foam rubber ball, with a beard and hair made from nylon rope, and a wreath of holly around his head (I'm thinking this has to be impervious to weather if it's to be out on my front lawn for a while) and....

Yeah, I think this is doable! :::Big Grin:::


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