Coca-Cola’s Role in Shaping the American Image of Santa Claus

Whenever a folk tradition becomes popular, you can be sure that a large company will try to appropriate it for itself.  Coke claims it created the jolly old man as we know him today. By David Bollier Whenever a folk tradition becomes popular, you can be sure that a large company will try to appropriate it[…]

The Top Five Myths about Christmas

Debunking some long-held false notions of the holiday. #1 Myth Retailers Have Ruined Christmas By Commercializing It Until retailers began to see in Christmas the opportunity to market their merchandise the holiday attracted little of the attention it does now. It was retailers who made Christmas exciting. It was they who turned Santa Claus into[…]

Teleporting and Psychedelic Mushrooms: A History of Saint Nicholas, Santa, and His Helpers

Several of Santa’s modern features, such as his generosity, miracle-working, and focus on morality (being ‘naughty or nice’), were part of his image from the very beginning. By Dr. Louise Pryke and Dr. Christopher MalonePryke: Lecturer, Languages and Literature of Ancient Israel, Macquarie UniversityMalone: Honorary Associate, University of Sydney There are many sides to the beloved figure of Santa Claus – a giant of[…]

The Real Story of ‘Santa Claus’

Behind today’s mythical Santa Claus from the North Pole, is a real saint – St. Nicholas. How he came to be today’s gift-giving jolly figure from the North Pole is a fascinating story by itself. Santa Claus will soon be coming to town, bringing gifts to children. Santa has several aliases, depending on the part of the world you live in. The English call him[…]

How the American Civil War Cemented Modern Christmas Traditions

Alena Kuzmina/ Christmas tends to assume a strong sense of its own significance in times of protracted conflict. By Dr. David Anderson / 12.22.2016 Senior Lecturer in American History Swansea University Shortly before Christmas Day 1864, Abraham Lincoln received an extraordinary Christmas present – Savannah, Georgia. Union General William Sherman presented the captured city to the president[…]

How Charles Dickens Set the American Christmas Dinner Table

How did a religious celebration turn into a holiday that is all about home, family, and Christmas dinner? Turns out Charles Dickens has a lot to do with it. By Ellen C. Caldwell / 12.25.2016 How did a smaller religious celebration—once shunned by many American Christians—turn into a holiday season that is all about home, family,[…]

Schnapps, Whipping, and Sacks: How Christmas Traditions Evolved around the World

In the Netherlands, the tradition goes that Sinterklaas lives in Madrid, wears a red clerical robe and a bishop’s mitre, and has servants called ‘Zwarte Pieten’ (Black Peters). from The celebration of Christmas has distinct variations around the world, with many of these local traditions arising from particular historical circumstances. By Dr. Carole Cusack / 12.21.2015 Professor of Religious Studies University of Sydney Christmas[…]

An Overview of the History of Mythology Involving Virgin Mothers and Miracle Babies

Virgin birth was not a new story in the ancient world. At the centre of the annual Christian festival of Christmas, particularly among those of the Catholic faith, is the sacred narrative of the Virgin Birth. In the New Testament Gospels of Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (1:26-38), Mary, The Mother of God, is described as[…]

The Holly and the Ivy: Christmas Traditions that Pre-Date the Christian Story

Christmas trees are fairly moden, but parts of the traditional Christmas pre-date Jesus. By Dr. Peter GlavesEnterprise FellowNorthumbria University, Newcastle Every year, almost without thinking about it, we incorporate certain plant species into out Christmas celebrations. The most obvious is the Christmas tree, linked historically in England to Prince Albert – but its use in British homes goes back to at least[…]