Ratfink in Red Steals Father Christmas's ID
The Unmaking of Santa, United Nations style
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The puffed up rage that followed Megyn Kelly’s tongue-in-cheek assertion that Santa Claus is a white man’s got nothing on the new battle being floated out of Germany, which has moved to claim that their Father Christmas is “under threat”.
Before you clue in your small fry, Father Christmas is not being held for ransom by kidnappers, or in any other clear and present danger other than being “under threat” of being upstaged by that jolly old elf world famous for clamoring down chimneys.
Just 10 days before Christmas 2013, a German museum has applied for Father Christmas to be added to the UNESCO list of cultural heritage, arguing that he has German origins and is in danger of being sidelined by America’s Santa Claus. (The Telegraph, Dec. 15, 2013).
You can’t make this stuff up. Germany’s nose could be proverbially out of joint all because the dude that “comes right down Santa Claus lane” supercedes the longer-in-tooth Father Christmas.
“Germany lays claim to a number of Christmas traditions, including the tree, the nutcracker, glass baubles, the Advent calendar and the Christmas market.”
Did they leave anything out?
“But Felicitas Höptner, director of the German Christmas Museum in the Bavarian city of Rothenburg, thinks Father Christmas’s German origins are “under threat”.
“Her museum has applied for Father Christmas and Saint Nicholas the fourth century Greek bishop he is derived from, to be put on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage”.
Christmas went global centuries ago and Santa Claus, like everyone else in the world is a global citizen.
Germany has no real hold on all things Christmas. It was Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert who introduced the Christmas tree to Britain and the rest as they say is history.
The great Charles Dickens made Tiny Tim’s words “God bless us, everyone!” immortal in A Christmas Carol, circa 1843, and there’s no doubt about Tiny Tim being a Brit.
Father Christmas was wandering the roads of Britain as far back as the 16th century and was a contemporary of King Henry VIII.
Nobody was worried about a not-so-jolly fat man back then.
Father Christmas also has plenty of competition from Scandinavian and Dutch folklore. The Dutch call Santa, Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, the good Saint. Scandinavians call him Tomte or Nisse.
Both come with capacious bags of goodies, but Dutch children get theirs left in their wooden clogs.
Dutch children who misbehave are reminded that Sinterklaas also comes equipped with jute bags and willow canes.
The museum reminds us that a few decades before Thomas Nast, a German-born cartoonist, took the Father Christmas tradition to America and modernised him with his illustrations, replacing the hood with a hat and shortening the coat, a Munich magazine had already published a drawing of a grim-looking man in a hooded coat carrying a candlelit Christmas tree through the snow.
According to that version, it seems that Father Christmas has been framed.
And Santa Claus isn’t white, Megan Kelly, he’s red. The only question is who was the first to colour him red.
“Opinions differ on how the coat became red. Ms. Höptner subscribes to the view that it was Coca-Cola, which cloaked him in its corporate colours in its Christmas advertising in the 1930s.
If that’s the case why did she wait 80 long years to set the record straight?
“She said Santa’s background as an advertisement for the fizzy drink explained why he always smiled. His German counterpart, by contrast, can be grumpy.
Blaming fizzy drinks for Santa’s smile leans on a fuzzy concept.
And Coca Cola, like all fizzy drinks that come in jumbo size, have been banned in New York City and that’s making independent thinkers see red.
Meanwhile, if the museum gets its way in handing Father Christmas over to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, he’ll never be seen again. UNESCO has a way of gobbling everything in sight, stamping UN ownership on anything in the world of any historical value and still worth seeing.