27 Replies to “Why Does Santa Wear Red?”

  1. Wow there are only 52 comments on here. I guess your fascinating channel isn't gaining enough traction. Or at least it wasn't in 2017. Well the lack of voices on the matter has bolstered me to leave a comment about some huge portions of the history of Santa that you missed in the video:

    So St. Nicholas is one half of the origin of Santa. He lends himself to the American name Santa Claus, or St. Nick, but the imagery of Santa Clause is just as much influence by English father Christmas and other European traditions. You see, the tradition of an old bearded man who is the patron of Christmas is likely connected to the Germanic tradition of Father Yule or jólnir (in Norse). Christmas in Northern Europe was influenced by (or adapted from) the Germanic holiday of Yule. In fact it's still called a version of "yule" in many languages, including in English sometimes (think "yuletide," "yule log"). The holiday was associated with Odin, who was sometimes called the "yule father." The image of Odin likely influenced versions of "Father Christmas."

    The image of St. Nicholas as you might see him in the Netherlands was also likely influenced by understandings of Odin. However, St. Nicholas and his feast day were and still are separate from Christmas celebrations in Netherlands and Germany. Germany for example has St. Nicholas come on his day, but either "Weihnachtsmann" (Christmas man) or "Kristkind" (Christ child) come on Christmas. (Dutch transitions I'm less familiar with).

    As you mentioned, the American tradition has it's origins in Washington Irving. He liked New York's Dutch heritage and wanted to evoke it as New York's traditional folklore. This was the same time folklore and nationalism was becoming a big deal in Europe, ie the Romantic Period. Supposedly Irving was writing about New York's Old Dutch traditions, but also he adapted and just made up stuff and presented it as tradition. "Santa Claus" might be an example of this.

    His version was a tiny elf that had a mini slay drawn by a horse. The story was popular enough it got picked up by other writers and continued morphing. As you could imagine the tradition of English "Father Christmas" was a major influence. Another influence might be the Old German character of "Pelznikel" or "Belsnickel" a character that wears many furs or ragged clothes, a tradition still kept by some Pennslyvania Dutch. A lot of early versions of Santa Clause describe him wearing furs too, including Clement Moore's poem. Another German-American tradition left its mark in the form of the name "Kris Kringle" from German "Christkind."

    An interesting thing to note is the differing role that Father Christmas, as imagined in Britain, and this newly imagined Santa Claus had though. Before the 19th century, Christmas wasn't the sort of family centered holiday it is (at least in America) today. It was more like a community festival, with lots of drinking. Father Christmas, like the bacchian "Ghost of Christmas Present" in Dickens' A Christmas Carol, was the symbol of this revelry. The Puritans actually despised the holiday as "pagan" or "Catholic," and had it banned in Massachusetts! However it was the development of Santa and the tradition of giving gifts to Children that really re-popularized the holiday an made it the huge part of our culture.

    Just to mention, besides Washington Irving, and Clement Moore (who also mention in the video), Thomas Nast was an important figure in the history of Santa. He drew political cartoons during the American civil war and featured Santa Claus in them at times. He was German-American himself, and likely drew on influence from German traditions. Earlier versions of Santa, like Irving's and Moore's where actually little elves (that's why he could fit in the chimney), but Nast helped solidify a tall human version. Nast also mentions Santa as living in the North Pole, perhaps the first to do so.

    Anyway, I love the history of Santa Claus. He's a uniquely American character and a particularly New York one too. Irving, Moore, Nast all were New Yorkers and the traditions around Santa and the kind of Christmas it popularized developed first in New York. A Visit from St. Nicholas was fist publish in a newspaper in Troy, NY right near where I grew up!

    One more thing; I like that you got it right that Coca Cola didn't invent the red clothes for Santa, though they of course helped cement that version. Red was already becoming the default look and they just capitalized on that. It's interesting to think about that in the context of advertising and it's history. Great video!

  2. Wow I thought it was different I thought the red representing the blood of Christ and the white representative the holy ghost who knew it was a Coca-Cola gimmick

  3. Some interesting info here! I knew Santa hasn't always worn red, but I never knew that he wore blue at one time!
    I LOVE your Golden Girls shirt! I confess I didn't catch the "Bea White reference until I read Mattteus' post.
    I only discovered your videos recently and I've really been enjoying them! Keep 'em coming! 🙂

  4. I heard that his coat usto be white , but miss clause was having an extremely heavy flow out of her huge vag ! Accidentally she sat on his coat and got so much blood on it that he no choice but to dye the whole suit red !

  5. Red is associated with violence, danger, and anger.  European history, they saw red as the color of fire and blood.

  6. You have it wrong its from the bloody cloak of the pagan god of frost who the russians still call by his name.
    The real father christmas is european from the darkest time in history. You celebrate the gifts that he gave us during a time of death, cold and magic where family means survival and society prized hospitality.

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