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Ford-Designs-A-High-Tech-Hybrid-Sled-for-Santa-2

Santa, A High-Tech Being – Scientists

Scientists are pondering about Santa Claus’ high-tech stuff, could be the reason why he could fly fast from one place to another, appear in multiple places at once and can pass through solid barriers.

Jim Kakalios, professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Physics and Astronomy says “the man in red independently controls his quantum mechanical wave function. That means he can appear in multiple places at once and pass through solid barriers.” Continue reading

St. Nicholas of Myra

St. Nick gains on Santa Claus

BERLIN—Santa beware! Activists in Germany waging an international campaign to do away with old Father Christmas say they are gaining ground—thanks to the global economic meltdown.

Armed with child-friendly stickers, web-savvy promoters and chocolate figurines, the “Santa-Free Zone” movement says it is gathering steam this year against what it calls the hollow commercialization of Christmas.

Launched by a German Catholic priest in 2002, the campaign aims to knock Santa off his pedestal and replace what they see as a cheap, American import with the real thing—Saint Nicholas.

Bishop of Myra
“The movement is intended to raise awareness of the fact that the consumption-oriented Santa launched by the Christmas gift industry has very little to do with the holy bishop Saint Nicholas,” said Christoph Schommer of the Catholic aid group Bonifatiuswerk, which is rallying the Santa opposition.

Saint Nicholas, an actual historical figure, was the fourth-century bishop of Myra in today’s Turkey whose legendary modesty and generosity led him to give gifts in secret.
As the story goes, the bishop’s greatest miracle was saving three girls whose impoverished father wanted to sell them into prostitution. Nicholas, who had inherited a fortune from his father, left three lumps of gold over three nights in the room of the three girls while they were sleeping.

Catholics and Orthodox Christians in much of the world still celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, usually on Dec. 6, as a festival for children who receive chocolates in their shoes when they leave them out overnight.

Inventions of ad-men
But Saint Nicholas has long been upstaged during the holiday season by the ho-ho-ho-ing Santa Claus, or Father Christmas in Britain and Canada, and activists would like the saint to reclaim the Yuletide throne.

Santa’s red fur-lined suit, chubby mid-section and fluffy white beard are all thought to be inventions of ad-men at Coca-Cola, which came up with the grandfatherly figure for a campaign in the 1930s.

Opponents say Santa has cheapened Christmas by reducing a celebration of Christian values to a decadent and deeply dissatisfying display of greed.

But the Saint Nicholas camp also refuses to be dismissed as a bunch of bah-humbug curmudgeons.

“We of course are doing the whole thing with a twinkle in our eyes—we are not trying to take away Santa from anyone but we want to make clear who the original Father Christmas is,” Schommer said.

“Nicholas promoted values such as solidarity, loving thy neighbor, sharing what you have, and the bushy-bearded Santa does just the opposite—he’s a pack horse of consumer society, nothing more.”

Protestant support
Protestants have also joined in promoting St. Nicholas over Santa Claus as a more fitting symbol of Christmas.

The Lutheran Church put out a pro-Nicholas manifesto this month titled “How a Holy Legend Turned Into an Advertising Gag.”

“‘Jack Frost’ from Russia and the ‘Weihnachtsmann,’ ‘Father Christmas’ and ‘Pere Noel’ were superimposed on the image of the bishop from Asia Minor by clever advertising strategists,” the manifesto said.

“That is how the charitable miracle-maker who helped young people in need degenerated into the giver of presents big and small.”

The Santa-Free Zone people have in six years passed out 100,000 stickers emblazoned with a jolly Kris Kringle in a circle crossed through with a slash, like a no-parking sign, on high streets and at Germany’s ubiquitous outdoor Christmas markets.

The group launched a new website this year in time for the season, which lays out the stark differences between Santa and the real Saint Nick. The website is drawing 12,000 unique registers per month from around the world.

Candies vs chocolates
And the movement is rivaling traditional Santa candies with chocolate figurines wrapped in foil bearing the image of Nicholas the bishop dressed in a miter and a flowing robe, clutching a staff and Bible.

Schommer said the downturn in the global economy had already muted the shop-till-you-drop mood that usually reigns at Christmas.

He reported rampant interest in the Santa-Free Zone stickers and Nicholas chocolates in Germany, the rest of Europe and North America.

“There are several interesting parallels with the financial crisis, which also shows at the end of the day that material wealth is ephemeral,” Schommer said.

“Investing in stocks can make your money disappear in a flash but the values that Saint Nicholas stood for—that giving to others makes you richer and not poorer—is something that endures.”

Not on ropes yet
But Santa says he’s not on the ropes yet.
“You can’t have Christmas without Santa!” Peter Georgi, 66, told Agence France Presse on a break from playing Father Christmas at Berlin’s top department store KaDeWe.

The white-bearded Georgi with a mischievous smile said he had learned in his eight years on the job that even adults seemed to feel a little magic in his presence.

“Santa is not here trying to pull money out of people’s pockets. Children, adults and even old people come especially to see me every year. Santa will always be a part of the joy of the holidays.”

Agence France-Presse

source: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/world/view/20081224-179882/St-Nick-gains-on-Santa-Claus

The First Image of Santa Claus

I got this story from the net and it is very interesting to know who was behind the image of Santa Claus.

Thomas Nast (1840-1902), was the man who first drew the popular image of Santa Claus as portrayed in many stories for the past generations of man on earth.

The first illustration appeared in the January 3, 1863 edition of Harper’s Weekly, and shows Santa Claus visiting a Civil War Camp. In the background of the illustration, a sign can be seen that reads “Welcome Santa Claus.”

The illustration shows Santa handing out gifts to children and soldiers. One soldier receives a new pair of socks, which would no doubt be one of the most wonderful things a soldier of the time could receive.

Santa is pictured sitting on his sleigh, which is being pulled by reindeer. Santa is pictured with a long white beard, a furry hat, collar and belt. We can see that many of our modern perceptions of Santa Claus are demonstrated in the 141 year old print.

Thomas Nast, the man who, along with Clement Moore, created our current image of Santa Claus, was featured in the New Yorker magazine (December 15, 1997).

Here is an excerpt (pp. 84-102) from the article by Adam Gopnik.

“Like so many of the great makers of nineteenth-century American art, Nast was a foreigner. He was born in 1840 in the little German town of Landau . His father was a musician, who played trombone in a military band. He was also a liberal of the great generation of 1848 and, with his family, he fled reaction to come to New York . Nast was a pure product of the German-American culture that in many ways dominated New York then, and still survives, in fragments, up around East Eighty-sixth Street . It was a culture built around sacredness of concert music, particularly Beethoven (Nast’s father was a member of the Philharmonic Society, and, odd as it seems now, after a hundred years of darker views of Germanness, around a sense of comfort that eventually produced the American cult of Christmas. In Nast’s generation, it was the Germans who brought warmth and music to a parched and tinny American Protestantism.

“More important, Nast remained a German artist in the same manner that Audubon remained French. He had a distinctly German combination of liberal feeling and prim, self-righteous Protestant offense at excess; it is not always easy to separate the anti-corruption from the anti-Catholic feeling in his mature cartooning.”

Below is Nast’s most famous drawing, “Merry Old Santa Claus,” from Harper’s Weekly, January 1, 1881

 

Who is Santa Claus?

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People are always asking about Santa Claus. Was he existed on this planet? Was he really the person as portrayed in many stories, a fat bearded man riding a flying sleigh with reindeers, distributing gifts to people during Christmas eve?

As early as 4th Century, there is somehow a real story about Santa Claus

Origin of Santa Claus:






bullet 4th century: There are two main, incompatible belief systems about St. Nicholas:


bullet Among Roman Catholics and conservative Protestants, there is a near universal belief that St. Nicholas of Bari once lived in Asia Minor, and died in either 345 or 352 CE. The Catholic Information Network speculates that he was probably born in Patara in the province of Myra in Asia Minor; this is apparently based on the belief that he later became bishop of Myra in Lycia (now Turkey). 8. He is alleged to have attended the first council of Nicea; however, his name does not appear on lists of attending bishops. He is honored as a Patron Saint in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Sicily, and Switzerland. 2 He is also considered the patron saint of children and sailors.

Many legends and miracles are attributed to him:







bullet When he was an infant, his mother only nursed him on Wednesdays and Fridays; he fasted the remaining days.
bullet He halted a storm at sea in order to save three drowning sailors.
bullet During his lifetime, he adored children and often threw gifts anonymously into the windows of their homes.
bullet His father left him a fortune which he used to help poor children.
bullet He grabbed the sword of an executioner to save the life of a political prisoner.
bullet He brought back to life several children who had been killed.

bullet Some religious historians and experts in folklore believe that there is no valid evidence to indicate that St. Nicholas ever existed as a human. In fact, there are quite a few indicators that his life story was simply recycled from those of Pagan gods. Many other ancient Pagan gods and goddesses were similarly Christianized in the early centuries of the Church. His legends seems to have been mainly created out of myths attributed to the Greek God Poseidon, the Roman God Neptune, and the Teutonic God Hold Nickar. “In the popular imagination [of many Russians] he became the heir of Mikoula, the god of harvest, ‘who will replace God, when God becomes too old.’ 8

When the church created the persona of St. Nicholas, they adopted Poseidon’s title “the Sailor.” They seem to have picked up his last name from Nickar. Various temples of Poseidon became shrines of St. Nicholas. 1 In medieval England… in tiny sea ports we find the typical little chapel built on an eminence and looking out to sea.8 St. Nicholas also adopted some of the qualities of “The Grandmother” or Befana from Italy. She was said to have filled children’s stockings with gifts. Her shrine at Bari was also converted into a shrine to St. Nicholas.

The Christian church created a fictional life history for St. Nicholas. He was given the name Hagios Nikolaos (a.k.a. St. Nicholas of Myra).

bullet 10th century: The Christian author Metaphrastes collected and wrote many traditional legends about St. Nicholas.
bullet 11th century: The Roman Catholic Church teaches that during the Muslim invasion of Asia Minor, his remains were transferred to Bari in Italy, where he became known as Nicholas of Bari.
bullet 19th century: St. Nicholas was superseded in much of Europe by Christkindlein, the Christ child, who delivered gifts in secret to the children. He traveled with a dwarf-like helper called Pelznickel (a.k.a. Belsnickle) or with St. Nicholas-like figures. Eventually, all three were combined into the image that we now know as Santa Claus. “Christkindlein” became Kriss Kringle.

Before the communist revolution, large numbers of Russian Orthodox pilgrims came to Bari to visit St Nicholas’ tomb. “He and St Andrew the apostle are the patrons of Russia.8

bullet Present day:








bullet Throughout many countries in Europe, St. Nicholas/Santa distributes gifts to the children on DEC-5, the eve of his feast day. In some countries, the gifts come at another time during Advent or on Christmas eve.
bullet In Germany, Weinachtsmann (Christmas man) is a helper of the Christkind (Christ Child)
bullet In France, Père Noël distributes the gifts.
bullet In Russia, under the influence of communism, St. Nicolas evolved into the secular Father Frost. He distributes toys to children on New Year’s Eve. 3
bullet In England, Father Christmas delivers the presents. He is shown with holly, ivy or mistletoe.
bullet In Scandinavian countries, the ancient Pagan Yule goat has transmuted into Joulupukki – similar to the American Santa.
bullet In North America, Santa Claus rules, thanks to a certain brand of soda.
bullet According to Roman Catholic church, his body is said to have not decomposed. In his shrine in Bari, Italy, it is believed by many pilgrims to exude a sweet smelling odor which cures medical disorders and illnesses.

History of Santa in America:

Santa Claus can be traced back for four centuries in the U.S.:



















bullet 1600′s: The Puritans made it illegal to mention St. Nicolas’ name. People were not allowed to exchange gifts, light a candle, or sing Christmas carols.
bullet 17th century: Dutch immigrants brought with them the legend of Sinter Klaas.
bullet 1773: Santa first appeared in the media as St. A Claus.
bullet 1804: The New York Historical Society was founded with St. Nicolas as its patron saint. Its members engaged in the Dutch practice of gift-giving at Christmas.
bullet 1809: Washington Irving, writing under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, included Saint Nicolas in his book “A History of New York.” Nicolas is described as riding into town on a horse.
bullet 1812: Irving, revised his book to include Nicolas riding over the trees in a wagon.
bullet 1821: William Gilley printed a poem about “Santeclaus” who was dressed in fur and drove a sleigh drawn by a single reindeer.
bullet 1822: Dentist Clement Clarke Moore is believed by many to have written a poem “An Account of a Visit from Saint Nicolas,” which became better known as “The Night before Christmas.” Santa is portrayed as an elf with a miniature sleigh equipped with eight reindeer which are named in the poem as Blitzem, Comet, Cupid, Dancer, Dasher, Donder, Prancer, and Vixen. Others attribute the poem to a contemporary, Henry Livingston, Jr. Two have since been renamed Donner and Blitzen.
bullet 1841: J.W. Parkinson, a Philadelphia merchant, hired a man to dress up in a “Criscringle” outfit and climb the chimney of his store.
bullet 1863: Illustrator Thomas Nast created images of Santa for the Christmas editions of Harper’s Magazine. These continued through the 1890′s.
bullet 1860s: President Abraham Lincoln asked Nast to create a drawing of Santa with some Union soldiers. This image of Santa supporting the enemy had a demoralizing influence on the Confederate army — an early example of psychological warfare.
bullet 1897: Francis P Church, Editor of the New York Sun, wrote an editorial in response to a letter from an eight year-old girl, Virginia O’Hanlon. She had written the paper asking whether there really was a Santa Claus. It has become known as the “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” letter. 4
bullet 1920′s: The image of Santa had been standardized to portray a bearded, over-weight, jolly man dressed in a red suit with white trim. 5
bullet 1931: Haddon Sundblom, illustrator for The Coca-Cola ™ company drew a series of Santa images in their Christmas advertisements until 1964. The company holds the trademark for the Coca-Cola Santa design. Christmas ads including Santa continue to the present day.
bullet 1939 Copywriter Robert L. May of the Montgomery Ward Company created a poem about Rudolph, the ninth reindeer. May had been “often taunted as a child for being shy, small and slight.” He created an ostracized reindeer with a shiny red nose who became a hero one foggy Christmas eve. Santa was part-way through deliveries when the visibility started to degenerate. Santa added Rudolph to his team of reindeer to help illuminate the path. A copy of the poem was given free to Montgomery Ward customers. 6
bullet 1949: Johnny Marks wrote the song “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” Rudolph was relocated to the North Pole where he was initially rejected by the other reindeer who wouldn’t let him play in their reindeer games because of his strange looking nose. The song was recorded by Gene Autry and became his all-time best seller. Next to “White Christmas” it is the most popular song of all time.
bullet 1993: An urban folk tale began to circulate about a Japanese department store displaying a life-sized Santa Claus being crucified on a cross. It never happened.
bullet 1997: Artist Robert Cenedella drew a painting of a crucified Santa Claus. It was displayed in the window of the New York’s Art Students League and received intense criticism from some religious groups. His drawing was a protest. He attempted to show how Santa Claus had replaced Jesus Christ as the most important personality at Christmas time.

source: http://www.religioustolerance.org/santa1.htm