Christmas Blog – Coca-Cola & Santa Claus

Christmas Blog – Coca-Cola & Santa Claus

When we think of Father Christmas, most of us imagine the same image. A plump man with white hair and a white beard in a red and white suit. But, has this always been the case? Has Father Christmas always donned red and white? No. Father Christmas or Santa Claus, has worn various colours throughout history including green, brown, grey and even yellow. So, how did he become red and white?

Every Christmas the same rumour permeates through Christmas chatter: ‘Coca-Cola made Father Christmas red and white, before Coke he wore green!’ This story originates from their successful 1931 advert in which Father Christmas is in Coke colours drinking you guessed it, a Coke. but did the soft drink giants really alter Santa’s suit with a marketing campaign? Drum roll please…  it is, in fact, an urban myth! Coke’s iconic ads undoubtedly helped to solidify the Santa we know and love by popularising it, but they did not make him red and white.

Image rights: CocaCola

There are numerous stories of how Father Christmas suited up as such. In reality, Father Christmas’ image today is a combination of myriad influences, all pieced together. The main being the original Saint Nicholas of Myra who was said to wear red robes and was renowned for gift-giving. However, the two were not always linked, the personification of Christmas dates back as far as 15th century England. Nonetheless, as to why Father Christmas wears what he wears, Saint Nicholas is the prevailing cause. He died on the 6th of December 383 and this date remains the main day of gift-giving in the Netherlands.

Image rights: Wikipedia

Santa Claus, the American depiction, was conceived from the Dutch evolution of Saint Nicholas: Sinterklaas. John Pintard, anointed ‘The Father of Contemporary Christmas’ first tried to instigate Saint Nicholas’ Day into American culture, but this didn’t receive much traction. However, ‘Santa Claus’ rapidly took off.

Santa’s outfit in America owes credit to cartoonist Thomas Nast who drew Santa for Harper’s Weekly over 20 years. Nast initially portrayed Santa in the stars and stripes of the US flag, and then green, but in 1881, this all changed. Nast settled on red and white, leading to this effectively becoming Santa’s official portrait. His inspiration is said to have come from both the robes of the original Saint Nicholas’ and the red reflecting his rosy cheeks and jolly character, with the white reflecting his beard, hair and snow. Nast was also the first to declare Santa lived in the North Pole.

So, as it turns out, Father Christmas’ red robes are down to many facets. Saint Nicholas and Thomas Nast pioneered them, with Coca-Cola’s ad campaigns helping to solidify it thereafter. Now that’s settled, here are some of our favourite Christmas reads that the big man himself would love!

Festive essential reads

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol - The most successful Christmas book and for good reason. This 1834 classic helped pioneer the notion of the Christmas spirit and its message is still relevant today. It’s no surprise it has been adapted into numerous films, plays and more.

Image Rights: Amazon

Dr Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas - This classic novel turned highest-grossing Christmas movie of all time tells the tale of a Grinch and his attempts to stop Christmas. It teaches the vacuousness of materialism and the importance of togetherness and the Christmas spirit.

Image Rights: Amazon

Brian Bilston And So This Is Christmas - A collection of 51 funny and festive poems touching on all things Christmassy! Perfect to switch things up from the more hard-hitting classics.

Image Rights: Amazon

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