Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

December 4, 2012

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Greensburg — It is the belief of many, that the original “Santa Claus” was St Nicholas of Myra, born in 300 A.D.

The only child of affluent parents, he was orphaned at the age of three and sent to a monastery. At the age of 17 he became a priest with a compassion for those in poverty. Through the remainder of his life he systematically gave away his fortune to those in need, especially the children.

According to legend, he was known for dropping bags of gold coins down chimneys, some of which would land in the stockings that had been hung there to dry. In his advanced years, Nicholas was elevated to the position of Bishop. The common garb for bishops in that time was a long flowing robe trimmed in fur and a red cape. Does this sound familiar? After his death, he was elevated to sainthood and incorporated into the Catholic celebration of Christmas.

When the Reformation made the figure of Saint Nicholas undesirable to many Protestant denominations, the Christmas gift-giver took on a number of new forms. In France he was called Pere Noel, in England Father Christmas, Russian children referred to him as Father Frost, and to the Dutch he was Sinterklass. Through all of his many transformations two things remained constant: his white beard and his generosity to children.

Santa Claus, as we know him today, first appeared in the 1823 Clement C. Moore poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”, where he is described as “chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf.” This figure was popularized in 1863 with a series of illustrations by Thomas Nast that appeared in Harper’s Weekly, and permanently etched in our minds with the Haddon Sundlbom Coca-Cola Santa’s which appeared on the back covers of National Geographic and the Saturday evening Post from 1931 to 1964. It is the Coca-Cola Santa, with his red suit trimmed in white fur, and wearing a black belt and boots, that is considered the image of the “modern” Santa.

Today’s collectors watch for Santa figures from the late 1800’s and the early part of the 1900’s. These Santa’s are dressed in robes, rather than the “modern” red suit. Robes made of mohair or fur are the most desirable. Older examples will seldom be found in red, but are in the Victorian era colors of purple, brown, white, blue, green, and occasionally in yellow. Many Santa’s from this era were were handcrafted in Germany and are referred to as a “Belsnickle”, a German term meaning Father Christmas.

In addition to figures, Santa candy containers and tree ornaments are popular with collectors. The tree ornaments will often be made of blown or spun glass, and the candy containers will be made, at least in part, of paper mache’.

Early Santa postcards, crepe paper foldouts, paper mache forms and greeting cards are growing in popularity and in value. In the area of Christmas paper collectibles, age is a definite factor in determining value. However, excellent condition is imperative no matter the age.

A heads-up for all of you “Baby Boomers”: Be sure to take good care of any childhood Christmas decorations that you may have. Chalk Santa’s, bubble lights, clip on birds for the tree, and plastic Santa’s from the 50’s and 60’s are starting to catch the eye of collectors.

Linda Hamer Kennett is a professional estate liquidator specializing in down-sizing for seniors and the valuation of estates and may be reached at 317-356-8967 or lkennett@indy.rr.com.

 

1
Text Only
Columns
  • nei-gb042314 Spaulding Column headshot Jack Spaulding: Spring turkey hunting season off and running Indiana's 45th annual statewide spring turkey hunting began last Wednesday, April 23, and DNR wildlife research biologist Steve Backs is expecting harvest results similar to last year. Hunters may kill one male or bearded turkey in the spring season,

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • nei-gb042314-linda kennett column jpg Linda Hamer Kennett: Crate art Paper labels from 1880 to 1930, collectively referred to as "Crate Art," are a unique form of American Folk Art. Originally designed to be glued to the ends of wooden crates to identify produce during shipping, the graphically attractive labels are

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • nei-gb042314-pat smith column headshot Pat Smith: Pat's potpourri This is a Pat's Potpourri day. Sometimes bits and pieces of things that don't quite make a whole column, but are still interesting to readers and me, become a column. Roger Welage told me not long ago that he spent the first 25 years of his life on S

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • nei-gb042314-homemakers logo Eileen Fisse: Garden time nears First a reminder: Club dues are due May 1 to our county treasurer, and now is the time to register for the Home and Family Conference which is held in June. Also, a reminder to sign up to work at the fair. I want to thank those who already signed up

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Maureen Hayden: Judge Richard Young described as “careful and thoughtful in his decisions" When U.S. District Judge Richard Young recently ruled in favor of a lesbian couple seeking recognition of their out-of-state marriage, opponents of same-sex unions called him an activist judge who was unilaterally trampling the law. The label didn't

    April 22, 2014

  • Brian Howey: Doctors Brown and Bucshon become seekers Seated across the table from me at Cafe Patachou were Drs. Tim Brown and Larry Bucshon. Dr. Bucshon was a heart surgeon from Newburgh. Dr. Brown is an emergency room physician from Crawfordsville. What made this breakfast meeting extraordinary is tha

    April 22, 2014

  • Thanks, Max

    Max Dickson has given the historical society a gift that many will enjoy for years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Lee H. Hamilon: Government As Innovator? You Bet! Five years ago, the federal government spent $169 billion to fund basic research and development. This fiscal year, it's down to $134 billion. People who believe in public belt-tightening applaud drops like that. I understand why: There are many reas

    April 17, 2014

  • How to deal with nuisance wild animals Most people enjoy watching wildlife and sometimes even interacting with critters on occasion. One of my favorite activities is keeping the bird feeder well supplied and seeing Hoosier song birds up close and personal. Sometimes there are situations w

    April 17, 2014

  • Self deposit box: Wolfsie takes a selfie of his check I love where I bank. It's a branch inside of a big supermarket. I can make a modest withdrawal and then go and blow every last penny in the cookie aisle. The tellers at the window appreciate me. They know about my obsession with round numbers and und

    April 17, 2014