Take Five

santachair

I know you’re going to have a tendency to think Santa’s getting a little lazy, but let’s back up.

You do know I’m not the real guy. Right? I’m working my way into becoming a professional Santa Claus for the holidays.

And the reality is that challenge, along with everything else I’ve got going on, is a litte more than I can write about on a daily basis.

Don’t worry, I’m not going completely away. But for the forseeable future, I’ll be checking in here once a week on Mondays. I may drop in occasionally on other days if time allows.

Along the way I’ll still be researching and planning and plotting.

Christmas will be here sooner than you think.

Santa has a lot of different names

santaworld

We talked the other day about the real origin of Santa Claus and how the name evolved from St. Nicholas. But he’s not Santa Claus round the world. Here are just a few of the varying names for the jolly old elf.

Belgium –  Pere Noel
Brazil – Papai Noel
Chile – Viejo Pascuero (“Old Man Christmas”)
China – Dun Che Lao Ren (“Christmas Old Man”)
Netherlands – Kerstman
Finland – Joulupukki
France – Pere Noel
Germany – Weihnachtsmann (“Christmas Man”)
Hawaii – Kanakaloka
Hungary – Mikulas (St. Nicholas)
Italy – Babbo Natale
Japan – Hoteiosho (a god or priest who bears gifts)
Norway – Julenissen (“Christmas gnome”)
Poland – Swiety Mikolaj (St. Nicholas)
Russia – Ded Moroz (“Grandfather Frost”)
Sweden – Jultomten (“Christmas brownie”)
United Kingdom – Father Christmas

I’m glad that I only have to remember one name for Santa.

How to Get the Job as Santa

becomesanta

I was lucky. I got to play Santa a couple of times on stage before I decided I might want to pursue this. Then in December I had my first professional paid gig. It went well so I’m seeing if this can be one of the retirement jobs.

I’m still working on it, but if you’re considering the same, here are some things to work on.

1. Decide if you really want to do this. Children and animals are difficult to work with. They cry, the pinch, they fight, they have bodily fluid issues. Being Santa takes a lot of patience.

2. Consider whether you look the part. I would never advocate anyone put on weight for this job. In fact I’m working for the day when they’ll have to add padding. But consider hair color and whether you can grow a beard. Some fake beards are better than others.

3. Look for opportunities. Most likely the mall will post a notice that they’re hiring. Check local job listings and Craigslist (that’s how I got the pet store gig). But consider private events and corporate parties.

4. If you’re serious, really serious, you can go to Santa School. We’ll talk about those options in a different post.

5. Network with the other Santas. Find other guys who are already doing this.

6. Set up a website. You’re here on this blog aren’t you?

7. Buy your own suit, boots, and beard. You can buy the less expensive costume store version. But if you’re really serious, you’ll need to plan on spending some bucks. In another later post we’ll talk about some of the retailers that offer Santa costuming.

Chances are if you’ve done this or are doing this, you’ll have some ideas of your own. Share them in the comments.

And, I’ll see you at the North Pole.

Favorite Christmas Movies

christmasmovies

There are lots of Christmas movies and shows out there. Here in no particular order are five of my favorites.

whitechristmas.jpg

White Christmas
Santa doesn’t actually show up in this movie. But it’s all about giving and has an amazing cast featuring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and Vera Ellen.

wonderfullife

It’s Wonderful Life
“No man is a failure how has friends.” – Clarence the Angel quoting Mark Twain.

grinch

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
We love both the original cartoon and the live action version.

santaclause

The Santa Clause
Tim Allen is the man who doesn’t want to be Santa in this charming, yet hysterical movie. When Santa falls off Scott Calvin’s (Allen) roof, “The Santa Clause” is invoked. Calvin and his son deliver the toys that evening, but over the next year Calvin experiences doubt as he slowly becomes the jolly old elf.

elf

Elf
Because the best way to spread Christmas cheer, is singing loud so all can hear.

Trust us, these are just a few that we like to watch every year. Share your favorites in the comments.

Santa’s Real Story

cokesanta

I know that it’s easy to think that Santa always been that large guy in the fashionable red suit, but his origins go back much further than the last century when that became the signature American look.

Back in the third century there was a man named Nicholas who lived in the village of Patara. At the time the city was a part of Greece, but today it is part of Turkey, along the southern coast.

Nicholas’ parents who were quite wealthy were devout followers of Jesus Christ and raised him to be so as well. But his parents died in an epidemic when Nicholas was still young. Because of what his parents taught him, Nicholas took to heart the message to “sell what you own and give money to the poor.” So, he used his inheritance and dedicated his life to serving God. He was appointed to be the Bishop of Myra and was known for his generosity.

During the rule of Roman Emperor Diocletian, Nicholas, along with many fellow Christians was persecuted and imprisoned. When he was released Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Nicholas died on December 6, 343 AD and was buried in his cathedral church. The anniversary of his death became a celebration known as St. Nicholas Day. Celebrations of that day vary and we’ll talk about them at a different time.

There are many stories of the generosity of St. Nicholas and his generosity. He is venerated by the Catholic and Orthodox churches and is respected by Protestants. His compassion and generosity for those in need continue to be a model.

St. Nicholas had a bit of a different journey in America. In the early days of the colonies the celebration of Christmas was banned because of the connection of some traditions with that of pagan celebrations (another post indeed). But the working class still chose the day to party.

Then in New York a group got together and sought to change the celebration of Christmas. Drawing on the legends American author Washington Irving wrote a series of sketches that featured St. Nicholas soaring high above New York delivering presents to children. In 1821 an anonymous poem called “The Children’s Friend” was published that featured “Santeclaus” (a variation from the Dutch Sinterklaas). Santeclaus drove a sleigh pulled by reindeer with presents for the children.

Then in the poem most of us recognized Clement Clark Moore wrote for his family a story called “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which most of us recognize today as “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Moore gave Santa the red suit, sent him down the chimney and helped name the reindeer. It was also the first to remove any religious reference to what Santa does and who he is.

By the early 1900s, the look of Santa in the red suit with the white beard was pretty standard in the United States. Merchants, including the producers of Coca-Cola, saw this as an opportunity.

These days, we have lots of stories of Santa. We have stories like The Santa Clause when Tim Allen becomes the new Santa and replaces the old one who met an untimely demise. We have stories like Bad Santa, or stories where Santa reenactors are a little too fond of the spirits. We have stories of Mrs. Claus having to take over. And every mall has a Santa where you can take your child for pictures.

Whatever Santa means in your home today, it’s important to remember where it all began some 1700 years ago, with a generous man named Nicholas.