The Transmutation of the Jesus Baby into the obese Coca Cola Santa

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It all started with Jesus as a baby in the manger.

This was what the Germans called “Christkind”. The Pennsylvania Dutch, who were not Dutch but Germans, called it “Christkindl”, which was misunderstood by English-speaking Americans as “Kris Kringel”, which later became one of the names of Santa.

Clearly, the baby in the manger was ill-suited for consumer advertising. So, conveniently, the commemoration of the death of Nicolas, the famous bishop of Myra, who died on December 6, 343 AD, came in handily. Closed enough to Christmas it offered much better marketing opportunities. Nicolas attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD during which the Nicaean Creed was formulated, which summarizes the essentials of the Roman Catholic faith and constituted a victory of Athanasianism over Arianism. Here it is:

We believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
begotten from the Father before all ages,
God from God,
Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made;
of the same essence as the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven;
he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary,
and was made human.
He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again with glory
to judge the living and the dead.
His kingdom will never end.
And we believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life.
He proceeds from the Father and the Son,
and with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified.
He spoke through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look forward to the resurrection of the dead,
and to life in the world to come. Amen.

During the Council, Nicolas sided with Athanasius, who preached Ομοιούσια (homoiousia) meaning that Jesus is physically present in the holy altar sacrament and that he was both God and human by nature. His adversary was Arius, who believed in Ομοούσια (homoousia) meaning that Jesus was only human but God-like and that the bread and the wine during the holy sacrament only symbolize him but are not really his flesh and blood. Nicolas became so enraged with Arius that he beat up one of his followers. He was reprimanded, removed from the Council, and ultimately thrown in the dungeon for his disrespectful and uncivilized behavior. Somehow, he managed to escape from prison, and spent the rest of his days doing good and helping the poor by throwing bags of gold coins through their windows. He became famous for piety and holiness and the saga developed among the people that he was so holy that he was able to put the devil on a chain. This is where the idea originated that he was accompanied by an evil creature that threatened insubordinate children with putting them in a bag.

This Greek icon shows the Bishop of Myra like he probably looked when he lived.

This is how I experienced Santa in my early youth in Germany. He looked like a modern Catholic bishop. No beard.

The Santa we know today was modelled after the Russian Father Frost, Дед Мороз (Ded Moroz), who wore the garb of a rich and noble Russian land owner, a Boyar.

Russian Boyar. The boyars were noblemen, warriors, and great landowners. Most of them were very rich. Some of them went around in the wintertime and gave food to the poorer rural population. Father Frost was modelled after these benevolent Boyars.

The Boyar-Father-Frost-Santa with the devil on the chain, which reverts to the original St. Nicolas and his reputation of supreme holiness. The devil was called “Krampus” or “Knecht Ruprecht” in the German tradition. A carrot-and-stick method of child education.

In 1822, Clement Clarke published a poem “A Visit from Saint Nicolas”, in which he added the sleigh and the reindeer to the Boyar-Father-Frost-Santa.

Elves, borrowed from Celtic mythology, became linked with Santa Claus in the same poem mentioned above. The poem also refers to Santa Claus as a “jolly old elf.” Santas’s migration to the North Pole originated from Thomas Nast, a Catholic American cartoonist who submitted Christmas drawings to Harper’s Weekly between 1863 and 1886. One of them featured a village called “Santa Claussville, N.P.” The N.P. stood for “North Pole”.

1930, the Swedish American advertising designer Haddon Sundblom created the Coca Cola version of Santa as an advertising character fully endorsing the present appearance of Santa as an obese old glutton with facial rosacea. The slogan “Give and take” is clearly intended as a consumerist travesty of Christian charity. The Germans call the obese Santa “Weihnachtsmann” i.e. “Christmas Man”, which can also mean “dufus”. It shows that the Christmas Man has successfully replaced the Christmas Child.

In 1949, the Jewish songwriter Jonny Marks added the character of “Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer” to Santa’s reindeer team. He also mixed some woke social justice into the blend. Rudolph is first despised by the other reindeer, due to his outsider appearance (the red nose), but when Santa (higher authority, government) puts him into an elevated position, his peers “shout with glee”.

This piece of protracted cultural war against Christianity is a worrisome example for how the Christian faith and religion are profaned, secularized, abused for marketing, and stripped of all religious meaning. A remarkable case of successful cultural deconstruction.

If you can see any meaningful connection between the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and savior of mankind, or the holy bishop of Myra and the fat Coca Cola drinking drumstick-eating Boyar-Father-Frost-Santa and his red nosed reindeer, which have by now almost destroyed the original religious content of Christmas, please let me know.

Because I can’t.

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