It’s all about father Christmas this week isn’t it? Will yours be fat, red and jolly or maybe green and elfin or maybe even blue? It’s often said that the man who we’ll be expecting down our chimney on Friday night was largely invented in the 1930s by Coca Cola as a publicity coup.
There’s truth in that but the story goes back to 3rd century Turkey where a very shy and red robed St Nicholas (often called Santa Claus) threw gold coins down peoples’ chimneys where it often fell into their stockings.
The Normans brought Santa to Britain where his myth elided with that of the pagan green cloaked father Christmas who wore a long white beard decorated with holly ivy and mistletoe.
If you treated him right, sat him by the fire and gave him something to eat and drink he would reward you. Later the Vikings brought another element to our mythical figure. At the end of December the Norse God Odin transformed himself into someone called Jul (Yule), wearing a long blue hooded cloak and rode through the world on his eight legged horse dispensing treats to the good and punishment to the bad.
Getting the picture? – basically our Santa is a mishmash of stories and cultural references and none the worse for it, is he?