Santa Is Born; Snow Still Possible

Santa Has Evolved and Been Exported

Santa Has Evolved and Been Exported

Fresco St. Nicholas Doesn't Look Much Like Santa

Medieval St. Nicholas Doesn't Look Much Like Santa

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

Harper's Weekly Santa Jan 3, 1863

Harper's Weekly Santa Jan 3, 1863

Melancholy Nast Christmas Eve 1862

Melancholy Nast Dipiction of Christmas Eve 1862

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.

GFS Snow Accumulation Through 12Z Wed

GFS Snow Accumulation Through 12Z Wed

GFS 12Z Wed

GFS 12Z Wed

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.


8 Responses

  1. Even though I am a person of faith, I consider the whole Christmas celebration as more of a cultural than a spiritual holiday. Don’t get me wrong, the birth of our Savior was very important, obviously, but there seems to be little evidence that Jesus was born at the time we celebrate Christmas. Nor is there anything in the Bible that indicates we should keep that as a holiday (there is a reference to Easter in Acts). As Christians, we should celebrate the birth of our Savior every day of our lives…and certainly not with the commercialism and avarice that has become the U.S. version of Christmas. Christmas with Santa and toys is part of the U.S. culture in my mind. I keep that with joy in my heart and am thankful for the blessings of the season and the birth of our Savior.

    Changing the subject: Let’s hope for at least a little snow. I mean winter is almost two weeks old now. Let’s have a little snow, man! See what you can do about that, Mr. Symon, would you?

  2. If you go back to my Christmas message, you will find that I spoke about the likelihood that Jesus was not born in December but probably several months before, given that the shepherds were in their fields…in the winter, they aren’t in their fields. But, you sound like Snow White. When we went to Houston, she told her son to her every day was Christmas and she says that all of the time. I knew there was some reason that I liked you. And yes, we need some snow. As for making it happen, that job is already taken and I am not fit to serve in that role. Call God. I am but a messenger.

  3. Umm, do you want some of ours? We’ve still got a passle of it over everything.

    Mike, Spokane.

  4. Oh yes….that would be fine. Or perhaps you could send Snow White and I a couple of airline tickets and we’ll come visit. In 2005, we took the train from Chicago to West Glacier. After a week there, we were to catch the train and go to Seattle. But, there was a derailment in North Dakota and the train was about 7 hours late. So, we finally got on the train and it went as far as Spokane before it stopped and they made us get off the train and take busses to Seattle so they could clean the train and send it back east on time. That was the only time I’ve ever spent in Spokane and would love to come back. I’m not entirely certain but it seems like that you typically don’t get that much snow…so we would love to have some. We’ve been cold since mid November but have had very little snow. Of course, it was supposed to be a warmer than normal winter….but that is what the goofs on tv said. The truth is that the forecast had us in a 40% probability of it being warmer…either way, its not so far, but there’s still more winter to go.

  5. Interesting site you have here Mr. Symon. As far I could see, you don’t mention the supposed December 25th connection with visuals out of Siberia by way of Finland; a story of drunken reindeer and the Yurt roof vents, that the red robed Shaman climbed through.

  6. You’re right…I missed that. I’d like to learn more about drunken reindeer.

  7. Up in the high Turga of the Siberian tundra as the reindeer thundered across the frozen podsil, they paused occasionally to eat the ‘poisonous’ fly-agaric mushroom; became ‘drunk’ and lo, they gave forth the psycho-active urine; which was drunk in turn by the red robed and white-bearded shaman – who then proceeded to climb in through yurt vent, which one might call the yurt chimney, and distribute choice, spiced Rudolf burger and ribs all round to general merriment.

  8. This goes into the museum of the hard to believe

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