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December 7, 2004 > Santa Claus Comes to Town

Santa Claus Comes to Town

by Arathi Satish

The holiday season is in full swing. Everywhere people go they hear Christmas songs and see holiday decorations. Shopping center parking lots are full and the spirit of Christmas fills the air. Santa Claus has arrived from North Pole and occupies center stage at the NewPark Mall in Newark.

The American version of Santa Claus, a roly-poly red suited figure, originated from the Dutch legend of Sinterklass, a Dutch variant of the name Saint Nicholas. The Dutch colonists passed on this tradition to the American colonies in the 17th century. By 1773, the name "St. A Claus" appeared in American press. In 1809, a man named Irving gave a description about the arrival of the saint on horseback each eve of Saint Nicholas.

The Clement Moore poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," now famously known as "The Night Before Christmas," gave Saint Nick his American image. Moore describes Santa as being dressed in fur with a bundle of toys flung on his back. He mentions his twinkling eyes, merry dimples, cherry like nose, droll mouth and a beard as white as snow. His portrayal of the jolly elf with a broad face and little round belly captured the hearts of children everywhere. Even though the authorship of the verse is questioned, the poem remains a classic and influenced the emergence of the American Santa.

This image was elaborated by Thomas Nast, an illustrator, who began a series of annual drawings in Harper's Weekly from the 1860s to the 1880s. His drawings established a rotund Santa with snowy beard, fur clothes and a clay pipe. The North Pole was added along with a list of good and bad children and Santa was depicted delivering gifts.

Haddom Sundblom depicted a life-sized Santa in Coca-Cola ads in 1931. Santa had finally arrived on the American commercial scene. Thus the journey of St. Nicholas, the kind Bishop of Myra who expressed devotion to God through kindness and generosity, ended up as America's jolly Santa, the gift giver. In 1939, Rudolph, the ninth reindeer, with a red and shining nose was created by Robert May while he was working on a Montgomery Ward Company catalog.

Children all over the world are fascinated by Santa Claus. He brings gifts and hope without expecting anything in return. His selfless generosity and kindness makes him a beloved figure. Children, along with parents, stand in line sometimes for hours in malls to meet him. For many children, celebrating Christmas would not be complete without visiting Santa.

Santa arrived in NewPark Mall on November 13th and will return to North Pole after Christmas. The Bay Area's famous Santa Claus, who has visited the NewPark Mall for the last five years, said that he is here to spread the Christmas spirit. He answers questions from children who come to see him; patiently giving them hope and cheer. When questioned about his life as Santa, he said that he is here to visit everyone, to find out what is on the minds of children, to give advice and solve problems. Regarding his 10 hour per day work schedule for 44 days straight, he said he enjoys every day of it. There is plenty of time to feel tired at the North Pole, he added. Santa Claus at the NewPark Mall represents Naturally Santa Inc. located in Colorado Springs, CO. The company places 85 Santas all over the U.S.

Our very own Santa Claus, as the children in the mall referred to him, brings alive the Santa of Moore, Nast and Sundblom. With a flowing snowy beard, kind and twinkling eyes, he sits majestically in his red suit waving and smiling at everyone who catches his eye. He truly brings a smile to people's faces as he radiates the Christmas spirit and says, "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

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