Tag Archives: who invented santa claus

Why are Red and Green Associated with Christmas?

atkins bookshelf triviaThe traditional colors associated with Christmas, red and green, are due to two major influences: the colors of holly and the depiction of Santa Claus. Arielle Eckstut, co-author of The Secret Language of Color (2013), elaborates: “Holly has played a huge part in this red and green association. And it dates back to winter solstice celebrations with the Romans, and maybe beyond.”

The second influence was the depiction of Father Christmas (AKA Santa Claus) wearing red garments. When the Christmas Card was introduced in England in the mid 1800s, Father Christmas was drawn wearing blue, green, or red robes. Across the pond, American illustrators, began interpreting the jolly old elf described in Clement C. Moore’s poem “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” first published in a newspaper in 1823. Thomas Nast, a cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly, drew the iconic Santa that we all know today. The Santa that Nast drew for the January 3, 1863 issue featured a Santa dressed in an American flag. Beginning in early 1900s, White Rock Beverages (founded in Whitestone, New York in 1871) began using an image of Santa Claus dressed in red and white for its ads to promote mineral water (1915) and ginger ale (1923). The next beverage company to enlist the help of Santa was The Coca-Cola Company. In the early 1930s, the company commissioned American artist Haddon Sundblom to paint Santa, dressed in red and white, enjoying a cold bottle of Coca-Cola with the tagline “The Pause That Refreshes.” The first ad featuring Sundblom’s Santa appeared in 1931 in The Saturday Evening Post. (Some mistakenly believe that Sundblom chose the colors red and white to represent the corporate colors.) Although Sundblom is credited for creating the modern image of Santa Claus, that honor really begins to several artists, including the one commissioned by White Rock, to define the iconic image of Santa.

For further reading: Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus
Twas the Night Before Christmas
A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life
Best Quotes from A Christmas Story
The Inspiration for Dickens’s A Christmas Carol
The Story Behind Scrooge
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Trivia
Mall Santas by the Numbers

Read related: http://www.bevnet.com/news/2006/12-18-2006-white_rock_coke_santa_claus.asp

The Story Behind “The Night Before Christmas”

For almost 200 years, parents and children have been reading or reciting “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (also known as “The Night Before Christmas,” or “Twas the Night Before Christmas.”) Although the poem was originally published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel in December of 1823, it was attributed to Clement Clarke Moore, a professor of Theology and Oriental and Greek Literature. The poem had been written a year earlier in 1822; the muse struck him while riding a sleigh during a shopping tree on a snowy winter day and he read it to his seven children that evening. The poem is notable because it directly influenced the mythology of Santa Claus: the red suit, the eight flying reindeer (and their names) pulling his sleigh, his modus operandi, the smoking pipe, and the entrance and exit through the chimney. Some of the imagery that Moore used was influenced by the work of his friend, Washington Irving, who describes St. Nicholas in his satire, Knickerbocker’s History of New York (1809):

“And the sage Oloffe dreamed a dream – and lo, the good St. Nicholas came riding over the tops of the trees in that selfsame wagon wherein he brings his yearly presents to children; and he came and descended hard by where the heroes of Communipaw had made their late repast. And the shrews Van Kortlandt know him by his broad hat, his long pipe, and the resemblance which he bore of the bow of the Goede Vrouw. And he lit his pipe by the fire and he sat himself down and smoked; and as he smoked the smoke from his pipe ascended into the air and spread like a cloud overhead. And the sage Oloffe bethought him, and he hastened and climbed up to the top of one of the tallest trees, and saw that the smoke spread over a great extend of country – and as he considered it more attentively, he fancied that the great volume of smoke assumed a variety of marvelous forms, where in dim obscurity he saw shadowed out palaces and domes and lofty spires, all which lasted but a moment and then faded away, until the whole rolled off and nothing but the green woods were left. And when St. Nicholas had smoked his pipe, he twisted it in his hatband, and laying his finger beside his nose gave the astonished Van Kortlandt a very significant look; then mounting his wagon he returned over the tree tops and disappeared.” (From Book II, Chapter V)

Moore’s poem was not published with proper attribution until almost 20 years later, in 1844, when he published an anthology titled Poems. Because Moore had not taken credit for the poem much earlier, relatives of Henry Livingston, Jr. (a distant relative of Moore’s wife, Catherine), began promoting a story that Livingston had actually written “A Visit” in the early 1800s. The main evidence was their recollection (Elizabeth Clement Brewer Livingston recalled in 1848 or 1861 after reading Moore’s poem, that her father had actually written the poem in 1808); the only manuscript, they claimed, had been destroyed by fire. The claim gained traction when Don Foster, an English literature professor and expert on textual analysis (he worked on the Unabom case), examined writings by Moore and Livingston and concluded (based on the metrical scheme, phraseology, and Dutch references) that it was indeed Livingston who wrote the poem.

The evidence supporting Moore is overwhelming. First there is contemporaneous testimony from colleagues that Moore wrote the original poem (they physically handled and read a handwritten copy). Seth Kaller, a document dealer and historian, who purchased one of the surviving copies, did extensive research and disputed Foster’s analysis point by point. Kaller’s research also turned up earlier writings and poems by Moore that are consistent with the meter and phraseology of “A Visit.” Kaller concludes: “I started this investigation with a willingness to let the chips fall where they may. In the end, I can conclude that when all the “personal opinions” and “personal rhetoric” are put aside, there is not a shred of real evidence to support the Henry Livingston case. He may have been a great guy, and he may have even written a Christmas poem, long forgotten, but he didn’t write this one.”

There are four surviving hand-written copies of “A Visit.” One was written in August 1853 (now in the Strong Museum), one was written in 1856 (now in the Huntington Museum), another one was written in 1860 (purchased by the CEO of a media company in 2006 for $280,000), and the last copy was written in 1862 for the New York Historical Society. Moore died a year later in Newport, RI.

For further reading: Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous by Don Foster, Henry Holt (2000)
The World Encyclopedia of Christmas by Gerry Bowler, McClelland & Stewart (2000).
Diedrich Knickerbocker’s History of New York by Washington Irving, Easton Press (1980).

http://www.sethkaller.com/about/educational/tnbc/#ch1. www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/santa/the_father_of_santa_claus.htm. www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/12/19/AR2006121901603.html

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