by JULIA BACCHETTI
Known as Kris Kringle, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, or just plain “Santa”, this legendary Christmas figure has so many different meanings around the world. Although he is generally described as a jolly, plump, white-bearded man wearing a red coat carrying toys for all the good children of the world, he is much more than that.
The history of “Santa” started in the Netherlands. The Dutch originally had Sinterklaas. He, like our modern day Santa, brings gifts to good children all over the world. However, he rides the sky with a white horse, and instead of handy elves helping with his deliveries, Sinterklaas has mischevious black-faced goblins making his rounds. As the patron saint of children, Sinterklaas sounds a little sketchy to me. Aside from the obvious non-resemblances, Sinterklaas and the Dutch celebrate Christmas during the first week of December, on the fifth and sixth. Sinterklaas is the rough draft for our American version of Saint Nick.
Old Austrian folktales about Santa tell of his many companions that work with him during Christmas time. Pelzebock, Pelznickel, and Belzeniggl are just a few. The most famous of Santa’s sidekicks is the Krampusz. Better watch out, better not cry, the Krampusz is coming for you! As the legend goes, the Krampusz follows Santa during the Christmas season, warning and punishing naughty children. The Krampusz stuffs naughty children into his sack, brings them to his lair, and eventually devours each child for his Christmas dinner. I would much rather coal in my stocking…but that’s just me.
In the United States, Santa has become a social networking phenominon. Each child can track exactly where he is going, and where he will be on Christmas Eve. Santa has a Twitter where you can see what he’s up to on the days leading up to Christmas. American children will faithfully leave milk and cookies for the big guy in the red suit. Writing letters to Santa, putting up stockings, and being good all year sum up the Christmas season routine for an American child.
No matter how old you are, the legend of Santa will bring back the best childhood memories. It’s never too late to believe in Father Christmas. Happy Holidays from Falconer’s Voice!