Who IS Father Christmas?
Where does he come from? How did he get to be so loved and his red suit so iconic? How has he managed to last through the centuries and be relevant today in the digital age? Our
Elves delve back into the history of the man we know and love as Santa Claus.
The modern-day Father Christmas as we know him was a product of legend and also of one of the most tumultuous times in British history.
The legends of St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas was a saintly man who was thought to have lived in the country we know now as Turkey in the 4th Century. His life was awash with great deeds, saving people from the seas and other disasters that befell them.
After his death – we are unsure of the exact year but around 352AD is thought to be accurate – the legends around St. Nicholas continued to grow.
The English Reformation
Take a look at the history books and you will see a turbulent period in British history called the Reformation. It was a series of events in the 16th Century that saw the Church of England break away from the authority of the Pope and the Catholic Church.
You’ll probably now that Henry VIII was in the middle of all this, kicking it all off when he wanted to marry Anne Boleyn and divorce Catherine of Aragon. But what has all this got to do with Father Christmas?
The legends of St. Nicholas became unpopular around this time. But someone has to deliver presents and keep the magic of the season going. And the very first idea of Father Christmas started to emerge.
Father Christmas and the red suit
Sometimes referred to as Father Christmas and sometimes as ‘Old Man Christmas’, the character of Santa started to emerge from the stories that parents began to tell their children. Slowly, traditions from other countries started to filter into these stories until slowly, over the centuries, more or less everyone across the globe knows and understand who Father Christmas is.
But what about his red suit? Who gave him that to wear?
Like St. Nicholas, Santa is talked of in warm terms. He is a kind man, giving out gifts and spreading more than a little magic over the festive season.
But how did the image of a portly older gentleman with a white fluffy beard and his iconic red suit become ingrained?
Not everyone enjoys the commercialisation of the festive season but without the artists and the marketing men, the image of Santa that we know and love wouldn’t be with us today.
However, don’t be too quick to judge, assuming that Santa is a product of marketing.
The image of father Christmas has grown over the years, with famous artists creating the image that we love. He hasn’t always worn red. Early drawings show him wearing green as well as a tan coloured suit.
But it was the robust red suit, trimmed with white fur that resonated most with us and this is the image that we continue to portray today with our professional hire a Santa service.
And before you ask, no it wasn’t the Coca-Cola company who gave Santa his red suit in a 1931 advertising campaign – he already had it!