LeRoy Pennysaver & News - page 11

The JollyOldElf
Last week, the second grade
students visited LeRoy House
to learn a little about the history
of Christmas at LeRoy House. I
think the studentswere surprised
to see the picture of Santa Claus
that I showed them. He was not
the big, jovial Santa that they
envision. Instead, a “chubby and
plump, a right jolly old elf”who
couldfit intoa“miniature sleigh”
pulled by “eight tiny rein-deer.”
In fact, Santa might have ap-
peared tobea littlescary“inspite
of himself.”
Thepictures that Ishowed them
were drawn by Thomas Nast, a
young German immigrant who
became awell-known cartoonist.
Nast drew many cartoons and
illustrations of Santa. Several of
them were included in a book
“Santa Claus and His Work.”
It was written by George Web-
ster and was published in 1869.
The story expands on Clement
Moore’s “AVisit FromSt. Nich-
olas,” written in the 1820s that
we know as “The Night Before
If you remember “The Night
Before Christmas,” you know
that the jollyoldelf isnever once
calledSantaClaus. HowSt.Nich-
olasbecameSantaClaushasa lot
to dowith theDutch, who called
Saint Nicholas, “Sinterklaas.”
It’s easy to see how Sinterklaas
became Santa Claus. And it’s
more interesting toknow that the
LeRoy familywereDutch immi-
grants, who probably knew St.
Nicholas as Sinterklaas.
Thomas Nast changed the im-
age of Santa Claus, through the
years. In “Santa Claus and His
Work” Santa appears as a small
round elf, who is dwarfed by
the Christmas tree. AndWebster
mentions that Santa lives in the
city of SantaClausville, near the
NorthPole. Previously, Nast had
drawnSanta in a variety of coats
and hats - - some brown, some
blue, others green, but in “Santa
has his red fur coat, but he looks
like a furry bowling ball.
The imageofSantadramatical-
lychanged in theearly1900s.He
seemed to become friendlier and
taller. In 1931, Haddon Sundb-
lom was hired by Coca Cola to
showSanta enjoying aCoke. It’s
interesting tonote thatCocaCola
wanted to promote their drink to
children, but at this time, it was
illegal to show kids drinking
Coke, so Coca Cola decided it
would showSanta - - not thekids
- - - having a coke - “The Pause
that Refreshes.”
By 1934, the Santa Claus that
we have come to know, was
defined by Sundblom. His ads
appeared in the
, the
Ladies Home-Journal,
National Geographic
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