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ICONS ARE BETTER #68: SANTA CLAUS

Instantly recognisable – check.
Frequently impersonated – check.
Been around for yonks – check.
There is no mistaking: Santa Claus is a true icon.
Call him what you will – Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, Santy or Santa – he’s a legend.
Literally.
He’s been imagined in many incarnations through the centuries.
Going back as far as the reign of Henry VIII, he was pictured as a large man in green or scarlet robes and typified the spirit of cheer and goodwill, reverly and good wine.
When the Victorians revived Christmas as a celebration, he remained a symbol of good cheer, though of no distinctive appearance beyond wearing a green coat lined with fur.
It was the 1823 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” by Thomas Nast that created the image of Santa Claus as we think of him today: portly, joyous, white-bearded, red coat and trousers.
(Not, as myth would have it, the Coca Cola adverts from the early 20th century.)
Since then, we’ve added traits to his personality and assigned new behaviours to him.
He makes lists of children around the world, categorising them as either “naughty” or “nice”.
He delivers presents to well-behaved ones, and coal to those who’ve been mischievous.
He has a workshop of elves and a fleet of reindeer.
He has an entire operations and logistics centre stationed at the North Pole from which you can track the delivery of your own Christmas presents.
He needs a mince pie and glass of sherry to keep him going on his annual globe-trot.
No matter how we envisage him, he’ll still be the man who brings a brief flash of glee in the dreek months of winter.
An enduring symbol of cheeriness and festivity.

Ellie Beecroft – Planning Director