Jump to content

Liberty professor outlines history of Santa Claus and Christmas tradition in upcoming documentary


Drosselmeyer

Recommended Posts

Drosselmeyer

Liberty professor outlines history of Santa Claus and Christmas tradition in upcoming documentary

December 7, 2020 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement    Liberty University

roberts-doc-shoot-480x320.jpg

As a featured guest in an upcoming Fox Nation documentary news segment outlining the history of Santa Claus and the Christmas holiday, Liberty University Department of History professor Dr. Carey Roberts is sharing how the man with the long white beard and red suit has changed with America’s cultural shifts.

Roberts was interviewed on campus last month for “The True St. Nicholas,” scheduled to air beginning on Dec. 14, and spoke specifically about how Christmas traditions merged in the mid-20th century.

“My role in the documentary is to explain the secularization of St. Nicholas into the modern Santa Claus, which really is a distinctly American contribution to the celebration of Christmas,” said Roberts, who also serves as the online dean for the College of Arts and Sciences. “My primary research interest throughout my career has been the evolution of American nationalism and culture, and I largely focused on early America but then stumbled upon the connection with Santa Claus in recent years.”

Roberts said the idea of Santa Claus as a gift-toting philanthropist for children first came to the United States as “Sinterklaas,” a Dutch character with a similar appearance who was celebrated by immigrants in the New Netherlands colony in what is now New York and the surrounding region. After mostly being localized in the Hudson River Valley until the 1890s and early 1900s, Santa soon became a figure in the Christmas season in New York City and later the world as the Big Apple became a global, cultural hub.

“As New York City became the centerpiece of American Christmastime celebration from the 1920s to the 1940s, so too did Santa Claus become a fixture of American tradition,” Roberts said. “Santa Claus is really a symbol of national unity that emerged between the World Wars and became pervasive around the country and the world by the 1950s.”

The Christian roots of Christmas have been part of American customs from the country’s early years, Roberts explained, but the manner in which it was celebrated varied by cultural region and used to be much more distinctive. Puritans in New England didn’t see it as a proper holiday due to its compartmentalizing of celebrating Jesus’ birth during a certain time period, while those in the South turned Christmas Eve into a “robust” celebration that Roberts likened to a combination of the modern Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve environment of fireworks and parties.

“Christmas was never a major holiday in New England and it was just cold and bleak,” Roberts said, contrasting it with today’s idyllic Christmas card image of a white Christmas in a small, cozy New England town. “In the South, Christmas was both a major celebration and coincided with a visit from Father Christmas, who was rooted in the European tradition of St. Nicholas.”

Roberts said that the “Christmas magic” that made the holiday more widespread came in the 1930s when a beverage company from the South, Coca-Cola, hired Swedish designer Harold Sunblom to create a national Christmas ad for the brand. His art featured the New York-rooted image of Santa Claus, a stout man with rosy cheeks and a large white beard that today has become the standard.

The iconic look of Santa Claus was born with Coca-Cola advertising in the 1930s and 40s.

New Christmas carols that emerged at that time revived older Christian hymns about Jesus’ birth to create today’s annual soundtrack to the holiday season and keep the Christian meaning of Christmas ingrained in the celebration.

“This actually enhances the Christian roots of American Christmas — you have all of these secular people who start singing Christian hymns,” Roberts said.

In the 1940s and 50s, media played a large role in creating a commonality among Christmas tradition for families to celebrate.

“You combine this new image of Santa Claus with the release of several motion pictures that came out around World War II like “Miracle on 34th Street,” “The Bells of St. Mary,” and (other) Bing Crosby films that helped bring together the different regional traditions of Christmas, along with the marketing image from Coca-Cola, to produce the modern American Christmas.”

Source:    https://www.liberty.edu/news/2020/12/07/liberty-professor-outlines-history-of-santa-claus-and-christmas-tradition-in-upcoming-documentary/?fbclid=IwAR3JnnQ0utzsheRZZt4iQXTJcXMxa3Dna6m_rr0GdTQXnG1x-GsLz6_Ew0A

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Donations

    All donations go directly towards the cost of hosting and running ClausNet!

    Your support, through donations or simply by clicking on sponsor links, is greatly appreciated!

    Donate Sidebar by DevFuse
  • Our picks

    • How do You Portray Santa?
      Portraying Santa is acting; it is a characterization of a mythical character.

      Most of us never think of ourselves as actors, but we are. Certain characteristics of Santa Claus have been handed down from one generation to another. The way we dress and conduct ourselves all follow an established pattern.

      Santa Claus is one of the most recognizable characters throughout the world. This came about from the advertising campaign of the Coke Cola Company and the creative painting genius, of Haddon Sundblom. Coke Cola was looking to increase winter sales of its soft drink and hired Sundblom to produce illustrations for prominent magazines. These illustrations appeared during the holiday season from the late 1930s into the early 1970s and set the standard for how Santa should look.

      This characterization of Santa with rosy cheeks, a white beard, handlebar mustache plus a red costume trimmed in white fur is the image most everyone has in their minds. Unconsciously people are going to judge you against that image. If your beard isn’t white or you have a soiled suit it will register with the onlooker.

      By the way, the majority of Sundblom's paintings depict Santa with a Brown Belt and Brown Boots. Not until his later illustrations did he change the color to Black for these items. Within the past few years many costume companies have offered the Coke Cola Suit and it has become very popular. You can tell it by the large buttons and absence of fur down the front of the jacket.

      No matter how you portray Santa, be it home visits, schools, churches, parades, corporate events, malls, hospitals we all make an entrance and an impression! The initial impression we make determines if our client will ask us to return.

      The 5 Second Rule

      I have a theory: When you enter the presence of your audience you have about 5 seconds to make people believe you are the real Santa.
        • Love
        • Like
      • 2 replies
    • If You Have the Post Christmas Blues You’re Doing Christmas Wrong
      The post-Christmas blues are a very real thing. Once the date of December 25th has passed the specter of December 26th is an ominous marker to many. It sits there on the calendar like the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come. Silent and foreboding, the very image of the hooded Angel of Death it seems to be. And why not?

      Just about anywhere you look Americans are tossing trees to the curb, ripping down lights from rooftops and radio stations are flipping back to everyday music. What took months to build gets deconstructed in a matter of a couple of days.
        • Like
      • 26 replies
    • Not Everyone Can Be Santa!
      Yes, I said it and it is not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings. I do view many Facebook sites along with websites and posted photos. Frankly, many of these postings should have never been put on public display.
        • Thanks
        • Love
        • Like
      • 3 replies
    • Auld Lang Syne
      Every New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight, millions around the world traditionally gather together to sing the same song, “Auld Lang Syne”. As revilers mumble though the song’s versus, it often brings many of them to tears – regardless of the fact that most don’t know or even understand the lyrics. Confusion over the song’s lyrics is almost as much of a tradition as the song itself. Of course that rarely stops anyone from joining in.
        • Wow
        • Love
        • Like
      • 3 replies
    • Merry Christmas, My Friend
      Every year around this time, some variation of this poem is circulated online. The poem is generally credited to “a soldier stationed in Okinawa” or more recently since September 11, 2001, “a Marine stationed in Afghanistan”.

      However, the poem’s true author is Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt.

      Originally entitled, “Merry Christmas, My Friend”, Corporal Schmidt wrote the poem in 1986 while serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, in Washington, D.C.

      That day the poem was placed in the Marine Corps Gazette and distributed worldwide. Schmidt’s poem was later published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December 1991.
        • Sad
        • Love
        • Like
      • 1 reply
×
×
  • Create New...