"The problem here is a totalitarian uniformity, a cult-like mentality such that even allies are enemies if they fail to follow the Exact Party Line. " - Phyllis Chesler

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Manhattan's Relationship To Santa Claus

I am taking a little departure today from my normal cry-fest to give you the low-down on Santa Claus. Yep, this mid-thirties Jewish gal is gonna impart some historical Christmas wisdom on ya!

Today in my favorite New York City paper, The New York Daily News is a very interesting article about how the modern day Santa came to be.

Here's the synopsis of what I read:

Initially Christmas was a combined celebration of the birth of Christ and the Roman celebration of the winter solstice. Those nutty little Puritans came along and outlawed all this celebration. It wasn't until 1660 that Christmas was celebrated again.

St. Nicholas is the patron saint of Amsterdam and the Dutch celebrate St. Nicholas Day on December 6. Much of Manhattan and other parts of New York State was established by the Dutch settlers. You will find many names of places with the suffix -kill in New York. A kill is a term for a body of water in Dutch.

The non-Dutch families decided that their children should not miss out on all the great gift giving and carried that tradition over to Christmas and started the tradition of giving gifts to their children on that holiday.

Later in New York City's history, when Jewish families from eastern Europe immigrated here, noticing how Christian families were giving gifts to their children at Christmas decided to add the tradition of gift giving on Chanukah.

It wasn't until 1821 that Santa rode a sleigh with reindeer. When Clement Clark Moore penned the famous poem " A Visit From St. Nick" he gave Santa eight reindeer.

Around this time merchants began the tradition of decorating their windows with holiday themes & toys to attract children in order to pull a the purse strings of their parents and the modern day Christmas as we know it today was created; right here in NYC!

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