By Colleen Walsh Fong
“You better watch out;
You better not cry;
Better not pout;
I’m telling you why:
Santa Claus is comin’ to town.”
-“Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” by J. Fred Coots and Haven Gillespie
On Sunday I saw a long line at the mall. It was filled with parents, strollers, and toddlers all gussied up and waiting in line to meet the jolly old elf, St. Nick. Too-tired toddlers rubbed their eyes while parents tried to keep their minds off of the wait. A few shrieks were heard as the occasional child balked at the idea of sitting on the lap of a corpulent, over-weight strange man all covered in white hair and red velvet. As parents, I guess we should see that one coming, but I remember anxiously waiting in such lines with my toddlers excited to have our turn with the big guy. I wonder if Santa could benefit from a 21st century makeover?
In any case, Santa is definitely the man in December. The legend of Santa Claus combines centuries of traditions from pagan, old Catholic, Christian, Dutch, Scandinavian, German and English folklore. Gift-giving good guys entered homes through chimneys in many pre-Christian cultures. The old Norse Odin brought gifts this way during the winter solstice, and Italian witch, Befana, made similar visits.
The Dutch Christian Sinterklass seems to be based upon bearded 4th century Greek Bishop, Nicholas of Myra, who was known for generosity to the poor. Today, St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Amsterdam. Our Santa Claus is believed to have evolved from Sinterklass.
In more modern times Santa usually appears as a happy, stout man dressed in a red flannel suit trimmed in white fur. His long white hair and beard stream down from beneath a stocking-type cap.
The most common American tradition has Santa stationed in his workshop headquarters located at the North Pole. He drives a flying sleigh, loaded with toys for good girls and boys, and powered by 9 flying reindeer—the original 8 from Moore’s poem and 20th century addition, Rudolph. Santa and his elves keep tabs on the world’s children throughout the year, noting their behavior on a long list or in a book. Within the decade I expect to see him using an electronic tablet for the purpose. In any case, Santa and his reindeer make it ’round the world and into our homes while we sleep on Christmas Eve. Deserving children wake up on Christmas morning to find the treasures he’s left for them beneath the tree and in their stockings.
Santa-inspired movies, books, television shows, cartoons, and clothing are everywhere in December. Even in our food. For the 12th Day of Christmas food I’ve made Strawberry and Cantaloupe Santas, which can serve as holiday snacks, appetizers, or desserts. They are as tasty as they are cute. As always, they are easy to make. And anything “Easy” is perfect for me.
Feel free to use this picture as a reference to make your own Strawberry and Cantaloupe Santas. Or take a moment to peruse our 2012 12 Days of Christmas photo series for other ideas, as we roll out a new holiday food picture each day. And check out our smart cookbooks for people on the go. Priced below $8.00 they make wonderful virtual stocking stuffers and gifts for people who love delicious food that’s quick and easy to make. Remember, ebooks can be sent to anyone with an email address!
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Eat well, and have a happy and healthy holiday season!