Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa Claus - A Local Look

I thought to start off the Christmas season by looking at that icon for children everywhere - Santa Claus.

How was he portrayed in the local newspapers in times past? What does this say about our ancestors ? (That I will leave up to you) .
Needless to say, I have not gone through every December edition of the local papers; however, one does get the idea that businesses very quickly caught on to the use of the Santa image to sell sell sell.

I am not going to go into a history of the evolution of the Santa Claus as we know him today. But an image that we would recognize came about a lot earlier that I thought. One of the first artists to portray Santa Claus much as we know him was American cartoonist Charles Nast in “Harpers Weekly”, December 29, 1866.

Harper's Weekly, 1881
You can see how Santa evolves in the local papers. Surprisingly, the images are not numerous, and are almost all advertisements.
The London Advertiser, 1892. Caption reads "Something For The Children: Just Look !"
The London Advertiser, December 1901
I always thought that a lump of coal in your stocking meant that you were a BAD BOY. I guess in 1901 you did not look a gift horse in the mouth. Why only one lump when you can get a ton! Boy that must have been some stocking !
The London Advertiser, December 1914
The first Christmas of the First World War, and the only instance where I found that the image of Santa Claus was used to make a statement rather than to sell something. As attitudes harden that will change.
The London Free Press, December 1931
Interesting advertisement during the time of the Great Depression. In spite of rough times they are still selling. You can see where the power centers in the family were even in the 1930's.
The London Free Press employee publication, December 1953
Yes it is moi. That year I had to be on crutches for nine to ten months - oh well - I did get to meet Santa ! I got a swell (50's jargon) gift. It also says something about editorial policy. The crippled boy gets front page.

Now it's 2010 and I have both the belly and the grey beard. It's also GOOD TO BE SANTA !

This is not me - worst luck !

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