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Father Christmas

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Father Christmas

Postby Solomons Song » 16 Dec 2009, 16:31

One of my favorite things about LWW is the fact that it is both a Christmas Story and a Easter Story. The Christmas element has, with the season, been on my mind, so I have been digging into the legend of Father Christmas.

Thing is, it has left me somewhat confused. Traditionally, I have absolutely refused to believe that the English legend of Father Christmas is the same as the person generally referred to as Santa Claus. If anything, Santa Claus is a very bad caricature of Father Christmas. Wikipedia seems to agree, in saying that Father Christmas was neither a gift-giver, nor was he associated primarily with children.

Well, I was watching the special informative subtitles on my LWW DVD, and it straightforwardly suggested that Father Christmas is indeed Santa Claus. That whole idea saddens me, as I think the spirit of Christmas should not embody such leniency toward materialism and greed.

Could someone who is adequately informed please let me know what is the truth behind this mystical character, Father Christmas :tree: ?
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby The Quangle Wangle » 16 Dec 2009, 18:19

From what I've read, Father Christmas as he is now imagined in the UK, and indeed as portrayed in LWW, is based entirely on the American figure of Santa Claus - his sleigh, reindeer, red coat, sack of presents etc are all characteristics of Santa, developed by American authors and illustrators in the 19th/early 20th centuries, and the British character has been so strongly influenced by this that today they are the same

In origin, they were different figures. Father Christmas, as you say, originally had no association with children or presents. He was just a personification of Christmas, and a good idea of what he was imagined to be like can be got from the Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol -

The walls and ceiling were so hung with living green, that it looked a perfect grove; from every part of which, bright gleaming berries glistened. The crisp leaves of holly, mistletoe, and ivy reflected back the light... Heaped up on the floor, to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry...mince–pies, plum–puddings, barrels of oysters, red–hot chestnuts...In easy state upon this couch, there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to see; who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty’s horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge...
‘I am the Ghost of Christmas Present,’ said the Spirit. ‘Look upon me!’
Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious breast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds of the garment, were also bare; and on its head it wore no other covering than a holly wreath, set here and there with shining icicles. Its dark brown curls were long and free; free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard; but no sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with rust.


Santa Claus, on the other hand, originated from the Dutch Sinta Klass - St. Nicholas - though I expect that figure, as celebrated today in the Netherlands, bears little resemblance to Santa.

So basically, C S Lewis's Father Christmas is essentially Santa - though originally different, by that time they had merged.
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby The Quangle Wangle » 16 Dec 2009, 18:30

And you wouldn't expect Santa to be accompanied by one of these:
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A 'Krampus', companion of St. Nicholas in some traditions (he beats the naughty children: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Krampus)
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby jo » 16 Dec 2009, 18:33

Good heavens. Well I am certainly not leaving a mince pie and a sherry out for THAT!
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby john » 16 Dec 2009, 18:38

The Quangle Wangle wrote:Santa Claus, on the other hand, originated from the Dutch Sinta Klass - St. Nicholas - though I expect that figure, as celebrated today in the Netherlands, bears little resemblance to Santa.


Just a point of clarification (only because my father is a Dutch immigrant, and I know these things) - The Dutch "Santa Claus" figure is actually named Sinterklaas.
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby Solomons Song » 16 Dec 2009, 19:33

Wow. You leave mince pie and alcohol for Santa?! Double wow! Now I know why he has traditionally been late to my house.
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby john » 16 Dec 2009, 20:03

Solomons Song wrote:Wow. You leave mince pie and alcohol for Santa?! Double wow! Now I know why he has traditionally been late to my house.


Late? I haven't seen hide nor hair of him since I was about 7. :snow-cry:
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby archenland_knight » 16 Dec 2009, 20:15

John wrote:Late? I haven't seen hide nor hair of him since I was about 7.


Well, then clearly you're on the "naughty" list. Doesn't surprise me, really. :snow-smile:
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby john » 16 Dec 2009, 20:50

archenland_knight wrote:
John wrote:Late? I haven't seen hide nor hair of him since I was about 7.


Well, then clearly you're on the "naughty" list. Doesn't surprise me, really. :snow-smile:


Wha-wha-what?? :snow-shocked:

Hey, just because I'm not a Christian doesn't mean I don't have morals or a conscience! I share my toys with others and play nice in the sandbox! :snow-wink:
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby Sven » 16 Dec 2009, 21:11

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Rat! he found breath to whisper, shaking. Are you afraid?
Afraid? murmured the Rat, his eyes shining with unutterable love.
Afraid! Of Him? O, never, never! And yet -- and yet -- O, Mole, I am afraid!
Then the two animals, crouching to the earth, bowed their heads and did worship.
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby jo » 16 Dec 2009, 21:17

And carrots for the reindeer.

Someone - one of my parents I presume - always used to take a bite out of one of the carrots. I would imagine that was less pleasant than scoffing the pie and sherry.
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby archenland_knight » 18 Dec 2009, 21:36

John wrote:Hey, just because I'm not a Christian doesn't mean I don't have morals or a conscience! I share my toys with others and play nice in the sandbox!


Oh, I'd forgotten all about that. Yes. Yes. That explains it. It has nothing to do with the "naughty" list. Sorry, John. But Santa has to cut back somewhere. St. Nicholas only visits good Christian boys and girls. That's right. You're just out of luck.

It's not really a religious discrimination thing. You see, things have been getting tight at the North Pole for about a century or so. There are more and more people on Earth ... 7 billion of us now. And think how many of those people are children! Despite his use of magic, he simply can't get to all of them in a single night. So, he's had to cut back.

Therefore, a few decades ago, some of the elves formed a research committee and determined that non-Christians would be less offended at being neglected by the only living canonized saint* than would Christians. Thus by visiting only good Christian children, Santa could significantly reduce his workload and speed delivery. He would be able to skip entire regions of the world. It was, thought the COE (Council of Elves), a stroke of genius.

Santa wasn't so sure. But, the truth is, the elves were having trouble keeping up with the toy orders for everyone. And for Santa's part, watching every little boy and girl on earth, aside from being creepy, (Where's Interpol when you need them?) is unbearably time-consuming.

And DEPRESSING. I mean, let's face it. Some of those non-Christian kids live in some really poor countries! Who wants to look at that every day. How can you think about what toy a kid deserves for Christmas when he hasn't eaten in a month? It makes a person feel bad, and no one wants to feel bad at Christmas!

So, finally Santa actually modified the COE plan to go even further. Not only would he visit only Christian children, but only Christian children in the developed world! That way, he didn't have to deal with any ... unpleasantness.

Of course there was a dissenting group of elves who insisted that this was not the way a saint should behave. They were quite vocal in proclaiming that this was not "what Jesus would do", and they continuously blathered on something about a lost sheep and "leaving the ninety-nine to save the one". Of course, since they went against the "council" they had to be considered "heterodox", immediately excommunicated, and classified as "not true elves".

Last I heard, those elves were doing quite well for themselves baking cookies in a tree.

So John, I' m sorry that Santa has neglected you. But there's nothing I can do I'm afraid. You see, I'm just not brave enough to cross the will of the COE. :snow-blush:



*St. Nicholas is generally believed to be the only canonized Saint still living, which explains his so-called "magic". However, a small number of Christians and Messianic Jews believe the Apostle John to, in fact, still be alive as well. Click here to read the explanation from one of the more interesting groups.
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby Bluegoat » 19 Dec 2009, 18:11

jo wrote:Good heavens. Well I am certainly not leaving a mince pie and a sherry out for THAT!


A co-worker of mine used to have Sinterklass and Black Peter come to his house every year, and Black Peter would beat whoever had been the most naughty with a whip. Usually one of the aunts. My co-worker spent one Christmas when he had been rather naughty himself hiding under his bed.
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby john » 19 Dec 2009, 18:25

Bluegoat wrote:A co-worker of mine used to have Sinterklass and Black Peter come to his house every year...


As a child growing up in a Dutch-American home, I was lucky not to have ever met Zwarte Piet in person!
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Re: Father Christmas

Postby robsia » 19 Dec 2009, 21:39

Solomons Song wrote:Wow. You leave mince pie and alcohol for Santa?! Double wow! Now I know why he has traditionally been late to my house.


It's a mince pie and Baileys in our house.

That's why English children gets lots of presents from Father Christmas whereas American children traditionally only get one from Santa :snow-tongue:
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