Bang Bang, my Santa shot me down

Anastasia Selezneva, December 30, 2016

Dear Santa, we’ve been really bad guys.

We can read you some Brodsky for that, or we’d rather tell you a better story and show some pictures. Stories and pictures — that’s what we’re always good at. We know where you’ve got your white beard and a bag full of presents from. And we also know how you’ve changed for the last 1500 years!

 

In the early 19th century Christmas in America looked like mixture of a Black Friday at Wallmart and a pagan rite. Protestant values didn’t include much celebrating, yet people needed to party. And they did it, getting drunk on December, 25 and hanging around in search for some wicked fun. After all, they chose the lesser of two evils and decided to bring back another holiday, but make it indoor and domestic. 

And there came the old man and the deer.

Saint Nicholas was well-known even in the 4th century A.D. Among the most famous tales of his deeds was one about him raising the murdered children from the dead. Another story was about him saving three poor women from poverty by giving them enough money to get married. That might be not so popular with the people now, but at that time it made St.Nicholas  really famous. People started celebrating the day of his death, giving presents to children and praising the saint. But after the Reformation only the Netherlands had been keeping that tradition before it was followed by the Americans.

 

Here's a picture of St.Nicholas. He doesn't look like Santa, does he? The rebranding of the saint took place in 1823, when Clement Moore wrote a famous poem for his children. From that poem we can learn about the modern appearance of Mr.Claus as well as about the kind of transport he prefers. The new idea of Santa was soon shared, and since then we have seen him looking like this everywhere. The guy was sent to the North Pole, provided with a wife whom he hardly ever sees and used for all kinds of commercial things.

The image of Santa sold like hotcakes. The best known picture of him was made by Haddon Sundblom for the Coca Cola company in 1931. The artist did so well in depicting the symbol of Christmas that he had been drawing the guy for the Coca Cola campaigns for 35 years.

 

 

Since then Santa Claus hasn’t changed much. However, he manages to lead a different life in all the countries he visits. In some European countries he is followed by strict and scary creatures to teach the badly-behaved children a lesson. In Australia, one can see Santa Claus riding a kangaroo sleigh. And in Russia he has a strange troublemaking granddaughter.

Here at Bang! Bang! we always wait for a Santa drawn by Misha Vyrtsev. He’s not a person to play with.