Friday, December 24, 2004
MY SO-CALLED LIFE: SOME CHRISTMAS HISTORY
Sufficed to say, I was a tad disappointed.
Hey, I'm not traditionalist. I revel in the "A Christmas Story" images of presents under the tree and the Santa Claus Parade as much as anyone. But the 2nd most symbolic Christmas image was designed by a cola company? That's commercialzation to the extreme. Which is saddening.
So, I decided to put on my detective hat and see what the deal was. I am pleased to report that Anwar's report is false. According to Snopes.com, the modern image of Santa (sleigh, B&E through the chimney, jelly-like belly) was not created by a cola company, but rather described in a poem by Clement Clarke Moore and illustrated by Harper's Weekly artist Thomas Nast.
As for Coke's involvement, here's what Snopes has to say:
"At the beginning of the 1930s, the burgeoning Coca-Cola company was still looking for ways to increase sales of their product during winter, then a slow time of year for the soft drink market. They turned to a talented commercial illustrator named Haddon Sundblom, who created a series of memorable drawings that associated the figure of a larger than life, red-and-white garbed Santa Claus with Coca-Cola. Coke's annual advertisements — featuring Sundblom-drawn Santas holding bottles of Coca-Cola, drinking Coca-Cola, receiving Coca-Cola as gifts, and especially enjoying Coca-Cola — became a perennial Christmastime feature which helped spur Coca-Cola sales throughout the winter (and produced the bonus effect of appealing quite strongly to children, an important segment of the soft drink market)."
So, I'm relieved to hear that a mulitnational conglomerate only exploited a traditional image, but didn't created it. A few other interesting things that I found out about Santa:
- Santa, one of the most generous figures in modern folklore is actually Dutch--the cheapest buggers on earth! (right, wifey?).
- "T'was the Night before Christmas" actually had a much more dry legal document-type literary title: "An Account of a Visit From St. Nicolas".
- Rudolph, the nasally enhanced reindeer, WAS actually created as a promotion. The Montgomery Ward group of department stores in the States used the stroy of rudolph as a gimmick to sell colouring books.
Well, don't say CH doesn't give you something to ponder over the Christmas Season.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
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