Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Will the Real Santa Claus Please Stand Up?

Santa Claus, sometimes called "old Saint Nick," is a legend born of a Greek mystic between the 7th-8th Century. Saint Nicholas' gift-giving attributes arose from a story that he gave a sack of gold to a poor man whose daughters would have otherwise been sold into slavery but for this handsome dowery.

Saint Nicholas was described as "fiery and wiry," spending many years in prison as a persecuted Christian during the bad old days of the Roman Empire. 

Hold on. Fiery and wiry? Of course traditions, like language, evolve over time. Our jovial, obese Santa Claus of today might have put on an extra 100 pounds thanks to the prevalence of preservatives and transfats in our modern diet.

However, the real truth about Saint Nick's metamorphosus from gaunt, wrathful mystic to euphoric tubby lies in a more ironic twist of fate. The image of Santa Claus known to modern man had its genesis within the marketing department of Coca Cola circa 1920. An artist created Santa as he is known today with a can of Coke in his hand, and this image maintained its effervescent quality in Coke ads well into the 1960's. 

Pop culture has continued on with this depiction, surely a boon to the costume industry and many an actor in need of a gig around the holiday season.

So, children and adults beware. If you don't want to end up with a waistline like Santa (and rotten teeth to boot), quit drinking Coca Cola and imbibe pure water instead. But please do keep one of Santa's good qualities: give, give, give.

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