Friday, January 28th, 2022

Shopper Client Stories


by Rob Lauer

The figure of Saint Nicholas-the Turkish third-century Christian saint-has been a part of Christmas celebrations worldwide for centuries. Legendary for his generosity and traditionally depicted wearing an ancient Christian priest's gold or red robes, Saint Nicholas was a far cry from our modern Santa Claus.

In his 1809 book Knickerbocker's History of New York, American writer Washington Irving first portrayed a pipe-smoking St. Nicholas soaring over the rooftops in a flying wagon, delivering presents to good girls and boys and switches to bad ones.

In 1822, American writer Clement Clarke Moore penned A Visit From St. Nicholas," better known today as The Night Before Christmas. First published anonymously, the poem went viral, and from then on, St. Nick was a plump, jolly elf,  dressed all in fur, who rode in a sleigh drawn by eight reindeer.

But Haddon Hubbard "Sunny" Sundblom-an artist hired by the Coca-Cola Company in the 1920s-deserves most of the credit for creating the modern version of Santa Claus.

Beginning with Coke's annual holiday promotions in 1931, "Sunny" began painting Santa as a robust, larger-than-life, grandfatherly figure.  Until then,  Santa was typically depicted wearing a knee-to-ankle length overcoat either made completely of brown furs or of blue, brown, red, or green fabric lined with brown fur. Since the Coca-Cola logo was white and red, "Sunny" dressed his Santa in a suit, with a shortened coat, made of only those two colors. The bright "Coca-Cola red" clothing accentuated Santa's round, rosy cheeks and nose, while the clean white fur lining the suite brought snow to mind.

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