... It isn't entirely true, but it isn't entirely wrong either; and it is most definitely important.
Santa Claus is pagan too!
While you're reading this entry (or more likely only the first paragraphs of this blog entry, unless you're adept at reading information-dense material quickly), open this YouTube link in another tab to listen to Emerald Rose's pertinent song. If the particular video I'm linking to has been taken down, or isn't available in the country YouTube believes you are currently in due to retarded national rights issues, here is a backup link that performs a YouTube search for other instances of that song. And here is a link to a Google search for the lyrics.
The most famous element of the Santa Claus myth is Nicolaus, a bishop in the Greek city of Myra in what is now Turkey, who was famous for his generosity to the point where they fabulated some (probably) extremely fictitious and far-fetched miracles (way before the concept of the Devil's Advocate was invented) after his death, just so they could have him made a saint (oh, and his bones were later
The Dutch woman
I still vaguely remember Leni, a Dutch school teacher, back in the early 1990s, trying to tell us about her people's handling of Christmass, with Sinterklass and Zwarte Piet and all that stuff (I think I remember that she told us that the little black dude gave coal to children who had been naughty, although my recent research suggests the bad children were instead beaten by Zwarte Piet with his stick), and which happened early in December (on the 6th, according to English Wikipedia) rather than fairly close to winter solstice.
Vïkïngs Uber Alles?
Probably no more than a couple of years before that, I was under the impression that the date of White Christ's birth had been placed to coincide specifically with an ancient Scandinavian holiday, Yule, as part of a memetic warfare strategy. I thought that was pretty cool. Then, not much later, I found out that it wasn't specifically Scandinavian, but rather based on an astronomical event, the winter solstice, which is noticable (for those with any astronomical inclination, anyway) anywhere that's not too close to the equator. So the date wasn't chosen at all to cater to us Scandinavians after all. Bummer...
Some idle thoughts
There certainly are pagan elements in present day Christmass celebrations - Emerald Rose are in principle correct about this - although not as many as one might assume. During my research for this blog entry, I came across about stories of the Norse god Odin doing rather Santa-like things, and they might be correct (I mean, correct in terms of what people once believed); I just find it odd that I've never stumbled over any such material before now. And if Odin was believed to fly around on Sleipnir and give gifts, when was this belief held? My guess is that if it ever was a belief, it wasn't a pre-Christian belief, but I hardly know this for a fact.
Remembe also the Father Christmass character that appears in the first (yes, first!) Narnia novel? Handing out gifts to the young protagonists? I'm pretty sure I understood him as a variant of Santa Claus, the first time I encountered him, either while watching an animated Narnia movie (several times; recorded on VHS tape), although I think it was a movie in two parts with only the first part recorded, so if Father Christmass wasn't included in that first part, then my first encounter would have been in the Danish translation of the novels, which I probably read a year or two after reading the translated Lord of the Rings.
In the last couple of weeks, some of the milk I drink has come in cardboard containers with Rudolph-coloured screw-on lids, rather than the usual white ones. That's not something I recall having seen before.
The Look of Santa
The appearance of Santa Claus used to be more varied, until Coca Cola started using him as a mascot, and he ended up fixated in red clothes. Previously he had worn green some of the time, and I've got one rather unconfirmed source pointing to the colour yellow. It's also possible he wasn't always obese. To continue the trend of talking about assumptions I once held, which turned out to be incorrect, for some time I thought that perhaps Norman Rockwell was responsible for the Coca Cola Santa look, but it's actually a rather more unknown dude named Haddon Sundblom (and dont give me any crap about not-safe-for-work; it's just some cleavage, in the currently used illustration in that article, and if your workplace is one where NSFW is a potential concern, you shouldn't be reading my blog while there. This blog is not safe for work. I'm not safe for work. I'm not safe for anything, really. If you want safe, you took the wrong turn somewhere. Shut the fuck up and go away!).
Even before that, other artists made various textual or visual portrayals of Santa Claus which strongly impresed audiences, these also tending towards the vicinity of 675 nm.
Oh, and I know this is a pretty bad blog entry, but I've had some important things going on in my life recently (nice things), so I haven't had the opportunity to do a good job with this particular post, and it's the kind of entry that has to be either posted now, or else postponed 52 weeks, and next year midwinter
Well, all my entries can't be gems of scintillating brilliance, but I'll be back nex year, with more good entries. Still planned to be every two weeks, so far.
Peter Knutsen typed these letters