Merry Christmas

Real Clear Science highlighted an interesting article from a few years ago on the evolution of Santa Claus: Will the Real Santa Claus Please Stand Up?

We always think of Santa Claus as an incredibly old man—positively ancient—but the fact is, he’s exactly 150-years-old, born in 1863. Indeed, we might be thinking of Santa’s predecessor St. Nicholas, who is far older, believed to have been a Turkish Greek bishop in the 300s. But the first European winter gift-bringer is even more of a geezer, going back to ancient Germanic paganism and the Norse god Odin. When he wandered the earth, the deity disguised himself as a bearded old man wearing a broad-brimmed hat and cloak and carrying a traveler’s staff. He looked a lot like Gandalf the Gray in “Lord of the Rings.”

The gift-bringer showed up during the 12-day winter festival known as Yule, where it was a tradition to burn a whole tree, from bottom up. (This evolved into the smaller “Yule log” we know today.) Children would leave hay in their shoes for Odin’s eight-legged horse and find it replaced with treats the next day. As Europe became Christianized, these beliefs were absorbed into the Christian faith, and St. Nicholas, celebrated on December 6, was bestowed with the gift-bringer mythology.

And related to Odin’s eight-legged horse:


via xkcd

Whatever this weekend means for you, I hope you and those you care for are safe and having a Happy Holiday, free of eight legged horses.  (Unless of course an eight legged horse is what you want for Christmas.)

Merry Christmas to all my online friends!

This entry was posted in Zeitgeist. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Merry Christmas

  1. makagutu says:

    Can I get a 7 legged horse for the holiday?
    Happy holidays

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    Of course, a lot of this stuff about Christmas is apocryphal, Mike. Take, for example, the naming of the baby. The facts are these: One of the wise men stepped on a rake in the stable, the handle smiting him on the head and so he called out in his distress, “Jesus Christ!”, to which Mary responded, “That’s a nice name – we were going to call him Raymond.”

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Steve Ruis says:

    I also believe that reindeer was a goat, no?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tom W. says:

    Happy Christmas to you too!
    You might’ve seen something about the Krampus in Germany and German-speaking parts of Switzerland? He was the ‘gift-giver’ for the bad kids! Disturbing as hell I tell ya!
    Wishing you all the best to you and yours 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. amanimal says:

    Giant mutant arachnid B horror movies – a new holiday tradition! Hope you’re enjoying yours! I’ve enjoyed the reading – Mark

    Liked by 1 person

  6. James Pailly says:

    Fascinating. I’d just assumed Santa Claus evolved directly from St. Nicholas.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope you had a Merry Christmas! I’m glad I didn’t get treats in my shoes. That would certainly ruin the treats. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

Your thoughts?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s