Christians claim that Santa Claus is none other than a historical Christian Saint named Saint Nicholas. But here is a small issue. Neither Saint Nicholas nor Santa Claus had absolutely anything to do with Christmas! He was artificially inserted into Christmas in 19th century! Today, Santa is everywhere. He is on Stickers. Cakes. You name it. He is shown as a warm, happy character with rosy cheeks twinkling eyes and laughter lines who sends gifts to Children. This is a modern creation. Here is how real Santa Claus was depicted in historical paintings. The “real Santa Claus “had nothing to do with today’s jolly Santa Claus, who is largely a modern commercial creation. Real Santa was a hot beaded, abusive, threatening & intolerant zealot, who reveled in breaking the temples of Non-Christians & physically attacking his opponents.
One of the earliest references to “Real Santa Claus” comes from an early, almost contemporary, account named Stratelatis written around AD 400. This account and its story has also been corroborated by the high praise of Saint Proclus in his Encomium on Saint Nicholas (440 CE). In these earliest accounts, “Santa Claus” comes in the defense of some prisoners. He threatens emperor Constantine & warns: “Constantine, free the prisoners. If not, I will stir up a revolt against you, and hand over your dead body and your entrails to the wild beasts for food”. He also threatens a local governor named Ablabius: “Ablabius, free those three men. If not, you will fall ill and end as food for worms, and your whole family will perish evilly”. This image of Santa Claus issuing death threats is hardly compatible with his image today.
According to Christian sources, “Santa Claus” was an attendee of the Council of Nicaea convened by Emperor Constantine. In this council, he slaps a fellow Christian pastor named Arius who had opposed Trinitarian doctrine. For this physical assault, he was briefly imprisoned. This deed has been alluded to by his early Hagiographers like Andrew of Crete (8th century) and Michael the Archimandrite (9th century). In all these available records, he condemned the unbelievers and Non-Christians to “eternal hell”.
The real Santa Claus belonged to Myra (today’s Turkey). Myra housed a great temple to Goddess Artemis. It rivalled the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Santa Claus saw every Non-Christian God as a demon. He waged a crusade against temples. Just about this time, Constantine became first ever Christian emperor in History. Making full use of the opportunity, Santa Claus broke the temple of Artemis with his own hands. A Christian painting which depicts St. Nicholas/ Santa Claus breaking the idol of Goddess Artemis.
According to Christian sources, hundreds of Non-Christian temples were broken down by Saint Nicholas/ Santa Claus. Andrew of Crete (8th century) praises Santa Claus as an architect — “For breaking down idols and building Churches in their place”. The Greeks and their priests suffered in these temple desecrations. In olden days, nations & people were often formed around worship of deities. Forcible temple demolitions like those carried out by Saint Nicholas were essentially religious wars in which many people were killed.
At this point, one must pause to ask. Where is the Santa Claus of Children? Where is the gift giver of Children? Where is the Christmas? Where is the snow? Where is the sleigh and reindeer? Where is the Santa cap? Where are the elves? His current image is a modern recreation! It must be remembered that Santa Claus had absolutely Nothing to do with Christmas. Until 19th century, Santa Claus had festival of his own. St. Nicholas day on December 6. It was believed Santa Claus would come down on December 6. Some European countries still celebrate it.
In the 19th century America, the coming of Santa Claus was artificially migrated from December 6 to December 25. From Saint Nicholas Eve to Christmas Eve. The credit for this transformation goes to two 19th century poems: “The Night before Christmas” and “Children’s friend”. In summary, until 19th century, Santa Claus had absolutely nothing to do with Christmas: He came down on Saint Nicholas eve (December 6). He was not depicted with reindeers. He had a bishop’s robe. He was not the cute, jolly and lovable Santa. He came down to punish unbelievers.
Who reshaped the image of Santa?
On its official website, Coca-cola claims the credit for reshaping Santa Claus through its 1931 commercial. Although many attempts were made in the 19th century itself, this advertisement played a major role. The image of Santa Claus began to be reimagined in 19th century even before the Coca-Cola advertisement. In the age of reform (c. 1850), Santa began taking his modern form. In this painting, he dips children in black ink. He starts to appear like modern Santa Claus. But it is the 1931 Coca Cola commercial which features the big jolly man in red and white robe that we know. It was Coca-Cola that popularised this modern image.
While depictions of Santa Claus in red/orange robe existed before the Coca Cola ad, they were very rare. He was frequently shown in white costume which was appropriate for a bishop like him. The popularisation of his red costume owed to the color of Coca-cola.
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To boost winter sales, Coca-Cola created the red Santa Claus matching its own color. The fear Saint Nicholas transformed into the big, jolly playful gift giver of children in red robe. It was not just Santa. Even the Christmas tree is a 19th century creation of consumerism.
(The story is compilation of twitter thread by @BharadwajAgain)