How Santa became jolly (and other aspects of Christmas)

We don’t usually invite everyone into our homes. Much thought goes into curating guests we bring into our houses. However, the urban myth of Santa Claus entering our humble abodes secretly sits fairly well with us. Why? This is likely due to the myths we’re used to hearing since we were children!

How Santa Claus came to exist

The myth of Santa Claus and Saint Nicholas is pretty well known. It was said that Saint Nicholas was an affluent Bishop who once visited a home. He placed gold in the same house secretly. This went on for a few times before the recipient of his goodwill caught him in the act. This myth of Sinterklaas travelled with Dutch settlers to USA. Over the years, Sinterklaas became known as the Santa Claus we are familiar with today!

Santa Claus was not a product of a successful marketing ad

What you know today is vastly different from the Santa of the past. Santa was considered to be quite a creepy, gaunt man before 1823.  The poem, ‘The Night before Christmas’,  published in 1823, changed public impressions of Santa. In Moore’s poem, much like Saint Nicholas, Santa was said to give away presents while travelling to different homes in reindeer sleighs.  Since then, Santa became the affable chap we clean our homes to welcome today!

What we know today is vastly different from the Santa of the past. Santa was considered to be quite a creepy, gaunt man before 1823.  The poem, ‘The Night before Christmas’, published in 1823, changed public impressions of Santa. In Clement C. Moore’s poem, much like Saint Nicholas, Santa was said to give away presents while travelling to different homes in reindeer sleighs.  Since then, Santa became the affable chap to welcome whom we clean our homes for before Christmas!


Illustration of Santa Claus in the year 1882

1881 illustration by Thomas Nast 

From 1931 to 1964, Santa Claus dressed in red and white was seen stopping to read a letter and enjoy a bottle of coke in the ads. These classic ads you know of remain popular even till today.

Due to the huge popularity of these ads, an urban myth that Coca-Cola created Santa’s image sprouted. This urban myth is untrue. Prior to these ads, Santa wore different colours. He was also seen wearing red and white even before Coke was invented.

Santa’s favourite reindeer was a product of successful marketing

Original copy of 1939 "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" distributed to all the children who visited Montgomery Ward
Credits: americanhistory.si.edu
Original copy of 1939 “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” distributed to all the children who visited Montgomery Ward

Another Christmas myth you probably heard of would be Rudolph. Santa’s ninth reindeer Rudolph was the product of a successful marketing campaign. Montgomery Ward is an American retail enterprise which still operates today. In order to attract consumers to the Montgomery Ward department in 1939, Robert L. May wrote a poem about Rudolph. As seen in the marketing collateral above, red booklets containing the poem was distributed to children who visited Montgomery Ward. This was all part of a marketing effort to attract children and their parents to visit Montgomery Ward. And Rudolph did ‘go down in history’! Even till today you still hear ‘Rudolph the red nosed reindeer’ every Christmas.

Gift giving on Christmas

Christmas  Gift
Credits: pixabay.com

Today, you might purchase Christmas gifts as early as the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales! Consumers today also spend less on food for Christmas, opting to divert their expenditure towards their children. The convenience of online marketplaces means that as a consumer, you are more likely to purchase Christmas presents online than in physical stores.

Dead weight loss of traditional Christmas gift giving

While the main idea behind gift giving is lovely, giving gifts may not necessarily convey our intended messages. Economist Joel Waldfogel’s research on gift giving showed that a gap exists between the money spent on a present and the value ascribed to it by the recipient. This means our gift recipients may not have valued the physical gift we gave them as much as we hoped they would. Waldfogel feels that to minimise wastage of resource allocation, we can change the forms in which gifts are given. Forms of gift giving which he suggested included giving gift cards or donating to charity in your gift recipients’ names.

Changes in trends of Christmas gift giving How Christmas might change in the future

Interestingly, current trends for gift giving are headed towards investing in shared experiences of holiday getaways or short-term hobby classes. In essence, this trend is in line with Waldfogel’s suggestions. It is not hard to see how this trend came about –consumers are more environmentally conscious and inclined towards unique experiences than their predecessors are. Paper & plastic wraps and gifts which aren’t utilised do not fall in line with millennial aspirations to be more environmentally conscious.

How Christmas might change in the future

It will be interesting to see how Christmas celebrations will change in the future. Factors of such include: increasing income disparity across developed nations and aging European population.  You may also see changes in cuisine served during Christmas. This is because people react to changing financial budgets and dietary needs as times change. Certainly, the types of gifts given will also change accordingly to the change in dynamics of the population. Additionally, new viral material might also lead to changes in Christmas traditions as you once knew.

It will be interesting to see how Christmas celebrations will change in the future. Factors of such include: increasing income disparity across developed nations and the aging of European population.  We may also see changes in cuisine served during Christmas. This is due to the changing financial budgets and dietary needs as times change. Certainly, the types of gifts given will also change accordingly to the change in dynamics of the population. Additionally, new viral material on social media might also lead to changes in Christmas traditions as we once knew.

Regardless, Christmas is a time for us and our loved ones to enjoy. Keeping our homes clean is definitely one of the biggest priorities for the holidays. Sendhelper is a platform on which you can book all cleaning services you need within the palm of your hand. Catered to your budget and preferred timings, you can book cleaning services on our app now!


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