What comes to your mind when you hear the word Christmas?
An old man with a white beard, nose glasses, a red-white fur gown, a red cap on the head, a black belt wide around her waist, a large bag full of shoes on his feet, and a large bag full of gifts on his shoulder. Isn’t it?
He became a household figure, and children are swayed away to believe in him and his antics. Kids do wait for Santa Claus, an imaginary figure who can give them gifts. In most cases, parents quietly leave gifts for their kids to strengthen this belief in their children.
The Santa Claus you see today is actually a marketing and advertising gimmick. Christians usually claim that the mythical Santa Claus is none other than a historical Christian Saint named Nicholas. In this article, we will give you a glimpse of the real man behind Santa Claus, and how this character has been drastically recreated by American commercials to influence the masses.
This marketing is so strong that you can see Santa Claus virtually on everything. He is on banners, stickers, products, cakes, and whatnot. He is shown as a happy and character with twinkling eyes, laughter lines, and rosy cheeks. However, this is just a modern and polished creation, the actual Santa Claus was depicted in historical paintings. Please have a glimpse of the real one.
You may be shocked to know that the real Santa Claus was indeed a hot beaded, intolerant, and abusive zealot who reveled in breaking the temples of Non-Christians and physically attacking his opponents.
One of the earliest references to “real Santa Claus” comes from an early, almost contemporary, account named Stratelatis written around c.400. This account and its story have also been corroborated by the high praise of Saint Proclus in his Encomium on Saint Nicholas (c.440 CE).
In these earliest accounts, “Santa Claus” comes in the defense of some prisoners. He threatens emperor Constantine and warned him and said “Constantine, free the prisoners. If not, I will stir up a revolt against you, and hand over your dead body and your entrails to the wild beasts for food”.
He also threatens a local governor named Ablabius:”Ablabius, free those three men. If not, you will fall ill and end as food for worms, and your whole family will perish evilly”. This image of Santa Claus issuing dεath threats is hardly compatible with his image today.
According to Christian sources., “Santa Claus” was an attendee of the Council of Nicaea convened by Emperor Constantine. In this council, he slaps a fellow Christian pastor named Arius who had opposed Trinitarian doctrine. For this physical assault, he was briefly imprisoned.
This deed has been alluded to by his early Hagiographers like Andrew of Crete (8th century) and Michael the Archimandrite (9th century). The real Santa Claus belonged to Myra (today’s Turkey). Myra housed a great temple to Goddess Artemis. It rivaled the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Santa Claus saw every Non-Christian God as a demon. He waged a crusade against temples.
Just about this time, Constantine became the first-ever Christian emperor in History. Making full use of the opportunity, Santa Claus broke the temple of Artemis with his own hands. A Christian painting depicts St. Nicholas/ Santa Claus breaking the idol of Goddess Artemis.
According to Christian sources, hundreds of Non-Christian temples were broken down by Saint Nicholas/ Santa Claus. Andrew of Crete(8th century) praises Santa Claus as an architect. “For breaking down idols and building Churches in their place”.
Even today, one can find the ruins of the great temple of Artemis lying scattered inside the original Church of Saint Nicholas/ Santa Claus located in his hometown in Myra(Turkey).
Now you may few questions
Where is the Santa Claus of Children? Where is the gift giver of Children? Where is the Christmas? Where is the snow? Where are the sleigh and reindeer? Where is the Santa cap? Where are the elves?
His current image is a modern recreation and a perfect marketing gimmick. Now you may think who reshaped the image of Santa and why?
Well, it was Coca-Cola, the famous beverage MNC. On its official website, Coca-cola claims the credit for reshaping Santa Claus through its 1931 commercial. Although many attempts were made in the 19th century itself, this advertisement played a major role.
It was a 1931’s Coca-Cola commercial that features the big jolly man that we know. It was Coca-Cola that popularized this modern image.
Which depictions of Santa Claus in red/orange robe existed before the Coca-Cola ad, they were very rare. He was frequently shown in white costume which was appropriate for a bishop like him. The popularization of his red costume owed to the color of Coca-cola.
Even Christmas itself is an imaginary festival
You will be surprised to know that Christmas, which is celebrated on 25th December with so much fanfare, is nowhere in the Bible. Today, the birthday of Jesus Christ is celebrated on 25th December in many countries, including India, but for many centuries his birthday was celebrated on 6th January.
In fact, for centuries, Christians differed over the birthday of Jesus Christ. The first celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday was celebrated in a church in Rome around 360 AD. After a long debate and deliberation, the birthday of Jesus Christ was declared on December 25 in the fourth century. Nevertheless, it took time for it to come into vogue.
Christmas was first legalized in the US in 1836 and declared a public holiday on December 25. Christmas is still not celebrated on December 25 in many countries of the world such as Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine, Egypt. The Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the birthday of Jesus Christ on January 6. On the other hand, Russian Orthodox church followers celebrate Christmas on 7th January.
We hope our article was able to debunk several myths about Santa Claus and Christmas.