Since we are only a few days away from Saint Patrick's Day, it seemed appropriate to welcome all of you to our March edition of the ClausNet Gazette, with a traditional Irish greeting!
This month we wrapped up our 2013 Short Story Competition. Congratulations to Santa Steve! His story, "The Night I Met Santa" took First Prize! We will publish his story in next month's issue. In the meantime, visit our ClausNet Contests and Happenings section to read all the entries.
I hope you enjoy this month's issue of the ClausNet Gazette! As always, if you have any comments, suggestions or even complaints, please do not hesitate to contact us!
Defend Christmas.com -- Mayor Jim Fouts and the City of Warren, Michigan won a battle in the U.S. Sixth District Court in a fight against the Freedom from Religion Foundation which insisted that the city’s failure to allow an anti-Christian sign in the city’s Christmas display constituted discrimination and was a violation of their free speech rights.
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Christmas Newswire -- Balsam Hill of Redwood City, CA, is recalling about 700 pre-lit artificial Christmas trees. The remote control receiver box attached to the Christmas tree can overheat and melt, posing burn and shock hazards to consumers. The company has received 10 reports of overheating and melting, but no injuries have been reported.
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Defend Christmas.com -- A Republican lawmaker from Houston has introduced legislation to protect traditional Christmas greetings, decorations and displays in Texas public schools. The bill is appropriately titled, “Merry Christmas Bill.”
This week Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) filed Senate Bill 665 to protect Texas public schools’ ability to use traditional holiday greetings such as ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Hanukkah’ on school grounds and to educate students about the history and roots of such holidays.
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TheHotToys.com -- Products in the Disney Princess under Little People series of Fisher-Price line are wonderful products for a toddler and equally for a preschooler. Your little girl can touch and feel her favorite princess with Disney Princess under Little People series of products.
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Toy News Online -- Hasbro is preparing to launch a bumper Spider-Man toy range into retail for 2013.
The supplier will supply all-new Power Webs blasters, figures and vehicles, licensed by Disney/Marvel.
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Toy News Online -- Hasbro will launch a limited edition Golden Token version of its most popular game Monopoly this month. The Classic Monopoly Golden Token Edition Game - priced at $17.99 - comes with all the current eight tokens, including the soon to disappear iron, plus five new tokens.
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Each month, our Featured Member section profiles one ClausNet member.
Members are chosen totally at random by myself and the staff. Once selected as the ClausNet Featured Member of the Month, we interview the candidate and post the interview on ClausNet.com. This is a great way to get to know your fellow ClausNet members!
This month our featured ClausNet Member is Santa Jim North!
Our Featured Member of the Month for March 2013 is Santa Jim North.
Santa Jim North is one of ClausNet’s pioneering members. He joined our community not long after first donning the red suit in 2007.
We caught up with Jim a few days ago and here is what he had to say...
Read the entire interview »
Missed an interview? Visit our Featured Members of the Month section to read past interviews!
It is widely known that Santa Claus is a direct descendant of Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra and years after his death was beatified and later canonized to Sainthood. There is a multitude of reference material on his life. What I wanted to touch on for discussion or leave my opinion was how our Modern day likeness to Saint Nicholas and the Catholic Church has evolved.
For generations, children from all parts of Europe celebrated in the Christmas Mass. Once the Catholic Church took a major roll in selecting a date to celebrate the "birth" of Christ. Again, it is widely known and accepted that Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th. The Catholic leaders selected this date and time of the season directly due impart of the pagan rituals that took place during the winter solstice.
During these times pre America, Santa Claus, or rather the image of a gift giver, was drastically different then the man we portray today. Many cultures based their gift giving off to Saint Nicholas and he is the basis for our modern day image here in the United States. Other gift givers from other areas of the world came into being and some of them are still active today such as Ded Moroz (Grandfather frost) from Russia or Julenissen (Christmas gnome) from Norway or even Père Noël from France and Belgium. What Saint Nicholas and our modern day version has in common are many traditional aspects that are tied directly to the Catholic Church. In particular the dress code of our Santa Claus.
Our modern day Santa Claus was a gift to us brought over from the Netherlands. Once again Saint Nicholas or "Sinterklaas" hopped a ship to the New world. Along with our Santa traditions also came little aspects of our Christmas Celebrations we hold so true today. From Christmas trees to wreaths and mistletoe, all of these traditions were brought over to the New World ages after the tradition of celebrating Christmas began.
Ok, Back to Santa. So Santa Claus our Sinterklass was a direct descendant of Saint Nicholas. Nicholas being a Bishop was royalty in the Church, but back then there were no true dress codes of Bishops. Today, Bishops sport Purple and Cardinals, which are Bishops as well wear red. Even the Pope wore Red vestments until St. Pope Pius V, changed the color from red to white. Today most popes still wear the red shoes as a throw back, if you will to those earlier times of red vestments.
Ok, backtracking a bit here. So the Santa that came to America was really just an idea or a passed down story to children. It wasn't until Thomas Nast drew the first Santa did Americans see the person they had only heard about. Nast, a Catholic, perhaps took artistic license when coloring his image. Since Nicholas was a Bishop did Nast conjure the idea for red clothing from pre 1566 popes who wore the red? Are we closer to emulating the popes attire more so than Nicholas'?
For some constructive debate lets take a closer look at what the popes wardrobe and lets look at how we dress. For starters, there is the Red color connection. Second, the Pope is often seen wearing a Camauro. A Camauro is a red wool or velvet hat that is trimmed in white stoat (short tailed weasel) fur. Sound familiar? Just add a bit of length and a pom pom and there you have a modern Santa hat. It has been a part of papal dress since the 12th century and until 1464 the Cardinals wore them too.
Many of us Modern day Santas also wear a cloak or shoulder cape. This too is part of the clothing of the pope and Bishops. known as a pellegrina. To take it a step farther, many times the pellegrina was lined with fur in the colder times of the the year. Perhaps this fur lined feature of he cape and the fur camauro are the basis of the fur on our modern suits? It would be a natural progression to an artist to line the coat sleeves with fur to match the hat and collars. Even the fur trimmed down the front of the suit can and Shaw collar can be attributed to the fur lined pellegrina worn so many years ago.
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I just found a note that I believe is very real, that Santa Claus wrote and stamped with the North Pole Seal.
It talks about giving and it talks about the holiday glow, it talks about the Spirit of Christmas and even Rudolph's Red Nose!
Go outside on Christmas Eve night, and make a wish for Santa's safe flight, and above the clouds may just appear, Santa Claus and his tiny nine reindeer!
Look for a red light blinking away and remember Rudolph is the one guiding the Sleigh.
So when you look up in the sky on Christmas Eve, please just remember, "Always Believe!"
It's funny, but I can still remember the first time I ever put on a beard to perform as Santa Claus. I was six at the time and my very first beard was made of cotton balls glued to a back made from a white t-shirt. Mom made a whole suit and beard for my first grade pageant. The beard had a large rubber band that, when put on, pulled the beard tight under my nose. I remember that feeling of a tickle under my nose as plain today as when I first put it on, along with the smell of the cotton.
I then graduated into a series of inexpensive beards going from a mohair "Moses" Church pageant wig and beard to a curly "fishing twine" beard to a synthetic, nearly waist length number. They all had a difference in how they were worn and how they felt. All of them had attached mustaches that absolutely drove me crazy, until I learned to use Spirit Gum. But the discomfort and a need for realism eventually caused me to grow my own beard, never knowing that better materials were even in existence. Had I known about the various yak and human hair materials and styles back then I probably never would have grown out my beard and my wife would have enjoyed the last ten years of our marriage. But I am digressing.
Last Saturday marked my first Santa appearance for 2013. I was asked to visit a family at our local hospice house, where a grandfather who was unable to celebrate Christmas with his grandkids was finally able to see them and celebrate. Due to advanced cancer he knew it would be his last. He wanted Santa there to just see their eyes light up one last time.
When I originally received the call I was hesitant to do it. I had shaved, remember, and my new custom beard (I ordered from Custom Wig Company) would not be ready until March. True, I had the old synthetic and an old yak set that I had accumulated along the way. But I was so afraid that I would not be able to do it without that "perfect" look. With great reluctancy (of which I am now ashamed to have had), I finally told them I would be there.
Which beard to wear? The old synthetic beard looked a fright, and I felt like they would think me more a Jerry Garcia impersonator than a Santa. (Funny, I didn't think that when I used to wear it. Guess I have matured a bit.) So my choice was the yak set. I didn't have time to wash and style as I have read here on Clausnet, so I curled as best I could and just fluffed and hairsprayed. Though the wired mustache was a bit tricky to form I stood back and looked at myself. I saw Santa, and my hope was that the family that I was about to visit would too.
You know what? They did. I entered the room to smiles and flashing cameras. I hugged some of the adults and shook the hands of the little ones who were a bit timid and awe struck. I kidded the grandfather about the "little red wagon I brought him when he was 5." With a smile across his weak cheeks, he told me he still had it which his grandchildren could not believe. After a few more pictures and a few moments of explaining to the children that "Christmas can be any day as long as you keep it in your heart" I departed. On the way out I told them that they would be in Santa's prayers, and they have been. Only a twenty minute visit, but priceless for that family who needed it.
I saw something I have seen many many times over all these years - the smile of a child. But for some reason it was more prevalent. You see, I went in feeling inferior for lack of what was on my face. However, what made me decide to do it at all was the feeling in my heart that said "Do this."
You see, my love for and duty to children in need of joy won out. My heart won the day because as Santa - just Santa - was able to touch their hearts. That was and is what it's all about. I have said a hundred times (and have heard others say hundreds of times) that it is not what is on your chin but what is in your heart that makes a Santa. I have shaved to truly recapture that for myself and to keep that thrill of the visit alive for the children I visit.
With that visit and the realization of this cherished fact of our community, along with my coming back around after all these years to a traditional beard, I have indeed recaptured the essence of the whole thing. It is a lesson I always knew but needed again. With the old familiar feeling of a tickle under my nose I have really practiced that lesson and found its truth locked inside. Love plain and simple, not girth or hair, indeed make Santa Claus real.
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By Santa Lou Knezevich
“Mirror, mirror on the wall; what Santa takes the best picture of them all?” Now of course you all replied, “I do!”
I was going through my “Things to Do List” when I saw my notation about taking photo graphs. We Santa’s are one of the most photographed personalities in the world but for some of us being photographed doesn’t come easy.
With the ability to master a few techniques; you may be able to expand your Santa season and develop another revenue stream. If you are photogenic you can find professional photographers who will hire you or you may wish to exchange your services for professional photographs. Another benefit is starting your season early as most photographers like to do their Christmas photo shoots in November and a few of these may just buy you that new costume you’ve been eyeing .
Judging by the many bland photos and “Deer in the headlights” looks I see posted on the intranet, I think we better start with some tips on how to smile. In fact Santa’s; we need to practice how to smile and how to encourage a memorable photograph.
The first thing you must master is how to relax. When you’re tense or trying too hard it’s going to show in the photograph. Let’s start with a simple exercise. Open your mouth slightly; relaxing, slowly breathe in and out about six times. Do it again but as you breathe in and out part your lips wider and wider showing your teeth until you have a wide smile. You will, with a bit of practice, hold that smile and eventually it will come very naturally. You’ll also find your facial muscles will have a certain kind of “feeling.” when you are giving your best smile.
Regardless if you’re a mall Santa, at a photo shoot or a house visit, you’ll need to call upon that “feeling” to continually take a great photo. You can start practicing and perfecting your smile whenever you look into the mirror or put one next to your computer and smile back at that handsome Santa.
There may be a correctable reason why you don’t smile. My own example is; for years I did not smile due to poor teeth. I had a few gaps and I was embarrassed by my appearance. I then had some dental work done which corrected my poorly appearing teeth. I began to smile and now I have no fear of showing my teeth. If you need dental work it will be worth your investment not only for your Santa portrayal but for your personal life too.
Now that you have that heavenly smile you may need to mind your eye blinking. Blinking results in those closed eye shots that aren’t very flattering. I try to block out the photographers “one, two, three!”
In venerably my eyes want to close on the count of three so I have to fight that instinct. I get around this by telling myself not to blink and holding a pose. I don’t look into the camera lens unless the photographer requests me too. I try to profile my face looking at the child or a slight turn in their direction or to either side of the camera shutter. Remember; the photograph highlights the child and a good photographer is going to wait for the right moment so you will need to hold a “pose” for long periods of time.
For more information on the Legendary Santa Mentoring Program, please contact Santa Lou Knezevich.
Santa Lou Knezevich
Creator Legendary Santas Mentoring Program
Each month we feature an inductee of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame. This month we honor William Gray.
At sixty-three years of age, William Gray’s bearded appearance attracted an invitation to fulfill the unique role of being the first Australian Father Christmas.
John Martin & Co in Adelaide, South Australia, with Gray’s help, developed a “Magic Cave” concept to entice parents with children to visit their department store. A small room was cleared and artists decorated the walls into picturesque murals of fairytales to delight children. Hessian bagging, soaked in plaster, was molded onto wooden frames creating surfaces which were transformed into icy stalagmites and stalactites.
A fireplace and comfy chair was arranged for Father Christmas to meet the children with a decorated Christmas Tree completing the scene. Unlike the American Santa set ups of the period, the Magic Cave was a completely themed environment. William Gray served as Father Christmas to the children of Australia beginning in 1897 and continuing for nearly a decade.
Australia’s Father Christmas
1833 – 1922
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