The traditional name Father Christmas originated in the United Kingdom in the 17th century, for the so-called Santa Claus. The moniker Father Christmas is translated into many languages and used in countries all over the world from South America to Canada, Spain, Turkey, Italy and many more. In America it has been accepted that Santa Claus and Father Christmas are different names for the same figure.
Originally Father Christmas was considered to be an old and cheerful man who was mainly associated with feasting and drinking, not giving out presents. Over the years Father Christmas has merged with the notion of Saint Nicholas to be a modern gift giver of presents as the well-known Santa Claus. In Australia we tend to use the word Santa Claus however most of Europe still use the term Father Christmas.
Father Christmas can be seen in most Shopping Centres in December all over the globe where families gather to make wishes for presents and take family photos for portraits. Father Christmas often appears as a large man, around seventy years old with a thick beard as white as snow. He is dressed in a red suit trimmed with white fur, black belt, a matching large droopy hat and dark boots. Often he carries a large red sack filled with toys on his back.
In 1863 Thomas Nast’s version of Santa Claus appeared on the cover of Harper’s Weekly as a figure of an old man with glasses in a red suit. Prior to this Santa Claus had been depicted with a tan suit. This change in suit colour occurred many years before the Coca-Cola Company advertising ads in the 1930’s that are often credited with giving Santa Claus his red suit. What is widely accepted is that the image of Santa Claus we know today can be credited to the Coca-Cola Company advertising campaigns.
Father Christmas is known to live in the North Pole where he starts his journey the night before Christmas to deliver all the presents over the world. Father Christmas has the ultimate transport like no other - a sleigh with Reindeers. The commonly cited names of the reindeer are Dasher,Dancer, Prancer,Vixen,Comet,Cupid,Donner , Blitzen and Rudolph . It is held that the practice of Father Christmas giving gifts stems from the story of Saint Nicholas who was known to be a secret giver of gifts and spent his life helping those that needed it.
Father Christmas traditionally comes down the chimney and puts presents under the Christmas tree, in children’s rooms or little presents including lollies in stockings that are hanging on the fire place. With the new style modern homes without a chimney he has a magical gold key that unlocks all doors so Father Christmas can leave the presents for Christmas morning. Families leave biscuits, drinks and carrots for the reindeers as a little present for him and the reindeers to keep them going before they head back to the long cold journey the North Pole.
Is Santa Claus real? is a question every child will ask at some time. This is when we know that some of the magic of Christmas has died. How to answer such a question? If you don’t believe you don’t receive seems to be a common response. For myself the response to this question became more complex. Does it matter if he is real or not? What matters is what Santa Claus represents. He represents acceptance of all people regardless of race and colour, a spirit of giving selflessly to others through his gifts and efforts to get them to every child, a soul that is eternally jolly and a love of all animals and people. A man that is happy in his solace and a believer of miracles. Do we always get want we wish for? No, but this also is a lesson in wants versus needs and such as life that we do not always get what we wish for. When people dismiss Father Christmas as the antithesis of religious beliefs I beg to differ. Father Christmas epitomizes all that is good and at the heart of those beliefs in a simple way that all children can understand.
I believe in the ideal that is Father Christmas and you should too. He always brings the happiest memories to a cheerful time of the year where we gather together with family , friends and loved one to enjoy Christmas .