On This Date in History: The whole history of Santa Claus is quite long and goes way back. Generally, the idea of a rather regal St. Nicholas came to America with the Dutch in the 17th Century. But, the fresco version of St. Nicholas hardly resembles what we think of Santa Claus. So, how do we go from a very pious, solemn figure of St. Nicholas to a jolly old fat elf with a long white beard who wears a red suit and black boots? Well, one simply has to go to the American media of the 19th century during the greatest conflict this nation has ever seen.
Prior to Christianization in Germany, the German peoples had a tradition of the German god Odin. Odin was said to appear at the German holiday of Yule where he would arrive on an eight-legged horse named Sleipnir who could leap great distances….perhaps this is the origin of Santa’s reindeer. The early descriptions of Odin all seem to include the word “yule” and “long beard.” Anyway, Odin would show up to lead the hunting party during the Yule season. German children would leave boots filled with carrots, straw or sugar near the chimney for Sleipnir to eat. Odin would reward the children for their kindness by replacing the food for the flying horse with candy or gifts. This is perhaps the origin of Christmas stockings hanging on the fireplace.
Well, in 1862, the American Civil War was blowing and going and things weren’t going well for the Union Army. It had
suffered numerous defeats and it was painfully obvious to the general population that what had been thought to be a short conflict was going to be one of great length and bloodshed. Political Cartoonist Thomas Nast had become famous for his illustrations of the Civil War, mainly in Harper’s Weekly magazine. Christmas would not become a national holiday until and enactment by President Grant in 1870. But, it was a tradition recognized in the nation. The modern, secular version of Christmas had its beginnings on this date in 1863, when Nast’s illustration of Santa Claus at Christmas showed up in the January 3, 1863 edition of Harper’s Weekly. During such time of travail for the Union, Nast perhaps drew on his own German heritage to create the image of Santa Claus as a kindly figure bringing some cheer to celebrate Christ’s birth. That image is generally what we have today.
Now, I once conversed with a woman from Turkey who was living in Germany. She complained of America’s “cocacolonization of the world.” That is a euphenism for America exporting its culture everywhere. If you think about it, there is some truth to it. I mean, when Colonel Sanders and Ronald McDonald are two of the most recognized people in the world, there is something going on. In fact, I think that its part of the cause for some of the strife in the Islamic world and the resentment toward the United States. Anyway, the same seems to be true with Santa Claus. The American version of Santa, created by Thomas Nast, is now recognized and used world wide, though in places like England, he is still known as Father Christmas. So, there you have it…the modern Santa was created from the mind of a man who was trying to bring some joy to a nation mourning a horrible time in the nation’s history. Perhaps it is an example of how influential the media can be…and this was just a magazine. Imagine what Nast could do with television.
Weather Bottom Line: Still, not much is more clear regarding next week. We’re going to get rain on Sunday and I still think the upper 50’s aren’t out of the question on that day. Then, we get chilly again for the week ahead. There still is a system coming around the bend out of Texas and up toward the Northeast and the question still remains what the exact track will be. However, two long range models, the NOGAPS (note its a tropical model) and the
GFS both look similar by 12Z Wed with cold air wrapping around and precipitation falling. The GFS on Wednesday morning throws out about an inch of snow. But, the rest of the day into the night seems to me to have an opportunity for more light snow if that scenario plays out. My guess, and its too far out to have anything more than that, will be we get rain on Tuesday and Tuesday night that turns to sleet and then some snow with not a huge accumulation but probably some. There are several scenarios though that I can think of going anywhere from all rain, to rain and ice to rain and a decent snow. Either way, Sunday will be the warmest day ahead but it will be raining. Saturday won’t be too bad so enjoy it while you can.