The Santa Story



The Santa Story

The Santa Story


Growing up in a mall, I discovered Santa Claus running the revelry director, hidden inside a futuristic hall. Raised floors and escalators, underground and parking lots, advertisements and a sensual voice: We would like to inform our customers that the center will remain open on Sundays. Come back and visit us.
On the ground floor, a man wore a red robe and gave away coupons. Styrofoam fountains spouted cotton candy flakes, and just beyond was a fake fireplace, lit for real. Easy listening songs reconciled with shopping.
They’d give you a basket and you had to do your job right: fill it up. Statistics posted online by consumer groups, revealed that 75% of customers with baskets always bought something, compared to those who didn’t have them. The baskets were well placed at the entrance.
Behind the greetings passed off as politeness, the nods of welcome, the signs of Merry Christmas and Holy Easter, there was a study, a science, an academic school: nothing was left to chance. The feeling that it was going to be a real holiday was packed with glow-in-the-dark bows and wrapping paper. Behind the smiles and kind gestures, for me, for those like me, it was just the relief of a busy place.

Cast and Customer 


It is a singular story, the kind that makes you question the meaning of fairy tales. The legend of the man we call Santa Claus is inspired by the life of St. Nicholas, the saint of Greek origin who lived in 280 AD in the city of Myra, the land that is now Turkey. After the death of the bishop of Myra, Nicholas was acclaimed by his fellow citizens as his successor.

Strenuous defender of the Christian religion, he was imprisoned and later sent into exile (305) during the persecution of Diocletian. Freed by Constantine in 313, Nicholas resumed his apostolate.
After his death on December 6 (presumably in 343), his fame spread from Asia throughout the Slavic area of Christianity and in the West to the north of Europe, thanks to multiple writings in Latin and Greek.
Through the spread of his cult, he became the protector of children and the defrauded. Some legends, in fact, narrate that the Saint resurrected three children and saved as many girls from prostitution.

It is difficult to reconstruct with certainty the plot that led a man who lived in the Middle East, presumably thin and olive-skinned, to transform himself into the figure that today is Santa Claus.
Certainly, the Protestant Reformation of 1517, prohibiting the worship of saints, led adults to invent stories and legends. Initially, the job of bringing gifts to children was entrusted to a baby Jesus with the help of an unspecified figure.

A story started from far away, an avalanche that arriving in the valley, swells. In the nineteenth century, the American writer Washington Irving wrote of a figure (Nicholas) who onboard a flying wagon, passed over the rooftops to bring gifts to children. It was Clement Clarke Moore, who provided a profile close to the present (1823), in his poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas. The writing was originally anonymous, later it was officially attributed to Moore – who seems to have created it for his sons – although some claim Henry Livingston Jr to be the author. Anyway, in the work the figure is of a plump elf with a white beard and red dress, driving a sleigh pulled by reindeer.
Another writer, the British Charles Dickens, in 1843 in A Christmas Carol, described him as a stout guy with a beard but dressed in green. Finally, in 1862, cartoonist Thomas Nast sketched Santa Claus as we all know him today.

Some sources claim that it is Coca-Cola that created the modern image of Santa Claus, because of the color red associated with the multinational company. The American company, in its website, clarifies that through advertising, from the ’30s to the present day, Coca Cola has helped to perpetuate the iconography of Santa Claus, but the choice of the color red is actually attributable to the political cartoonist Thomas Nast, who drew Santa Claus for thirty years, updating the color of his coat.
We can therefore say that Coca-Cola has standardized his figure.

It is interesting to know that the company commissioned the designer Haddom Sundblom, known as Sunny, his version of Santa Claus. Sundblom, was inspired by the description of Moore’s poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas, but used as a model a friend of his, Lou Prentiss, a retired salesman, and later, after the death of the latter, portraying himself in the mirror.

It is a story now dilated, the one that has come down to us, consolidated. After all, all fairy tales, if repeated with constancy and conviction, become true. A positive figure in terms of consumption, economy, and business, questionable in terms of ethics and morals, Santa Claus embodies the essence of the idol that goes beyond the concept of good and evil: in a society where artifice and special effects represent the absolute, he is definitely the cover man of every month of December.


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