You better think twice, Santa Claus is (not) coming to town

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slate.com

Santa Claus has evolved throughout the centuries. From the story of being Saint Nicholas to sliding down chimneys delivering presents, the story of Santa Claus has developed throughout the years. Furthermore, the story of Santa Claus has been in the lives of children for years.

Niki Gilman, Assistant News Editor

With Christmas right around the corner, one thing is for certain: a good deal of lying will be taking place. In a country that is roughly 70% Christian, it is fair to say that the majority of households in the United States will be celebrating Christmas. And with Christmas comes a jolly old man, one who has progressed through history over the last century, turning from a simple urban legend into the man that Western culture now accepts as Father Christmas, Saint Nick, or Santa Claus.

Santa’s origins in the United States began in the early nineteenth century, when Washington Irving transformed revived Sinterklaas, a figure of Dutch folklore, transforming him into a thick-bellied, white-bearded version of the modern Santa Claus, who exchanged his spiritual title for a pipe and a green jacket. Then in 1863, nearly half a century after taking his first steps towards popularity, Santa Claus appeared in Harper’s Weekly, a New York City based newspaper that was illustrated by Thomas Nast. Twenty years later, he was given a wife, and they began their ascent up the ladder of important urban myths.

“I think that the belief we have in Santa Claus from when we’re very young, and that sense of hope and wonder follows us even when we grow up,” said junior Isabelle Verdino.

Despite this strong foundation, Father Christmas’ popularity did not truly rise up in mainstream American culture until the mid twentieth century, when Macy’s began using him as part of their advertising campaign. The earliest images of Santa Claus, though they still included the green coat and pipe, included some reindeer to pull his sleigh. The image of Santa Claus was completed when Coca-Cola began using him in their 1930s holiday advertisements, illustrated by Norman Rockwell. Though Coca-Cola was not the first company to use Father Christmas in their advertising campaign, they quickly rose to popularity, and brought Saint Nick along with them.

Children are on their best behavior around Christmastime, hoping that Santa will bring them some wonderful presents instead of the historic lump of coal. However, all good things must come to an end.There comes a point in nearly every kid’s life when they are told, inevitably by another classmate, or a sibling, or maybe even a parent, that Santa is not, never was, and never will be real. That every gift, every contemplation over ‘naughty’ and ‘nice,’ every glass of milk and plate of cookies was all for nothing. While Santa may not be real, his image is still symbolic of kindness and holiday cheer.

But alas, this is just one of the many truths that kids have to come to terms with as a means to grow up. And in the end, Santa Claus is just one of the many creatures of the imagination that eventually have to be given up in order to understand the true beauty behind him, and the way he unites all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or age, under one common dream.

“As much as I wish the North Pole toy factory were real, I am glad I had the story to grow up with when I was kid,” said sophomore Ava Osher.