Saturday, December 28, 2013

White Santa

There are only a few more days left until New Years so I feel like I can still write this blog. I was discussing this with some people. Megyn Kelly said Santa was white. Jesus was white. Jesus was a Jew which meant he was tan and hairy. We all know that. However, lets talk about Santa. Santa was not white. St. Nicholas, the bishop who gave presents to poor children that Santa is based off of is a Turk. So no Ms. Kelly, Santa ain't white. He is an Arab.

However, it should be noted that St. Nicholas Day, the holiday that German American's brought to the states and the basis for Santa and Christmas gift giving, that figure is white. Basically St. Nicholas Day kids put their shoes out and wait for small presents. If you are good, you get some small gifts. If you are bad Black Peter, St. Nick's helper, gives you a switch. In counties like The Netherlands, the Black Petes paint their faces in black face and supposedly stuff the bad kids in sacks to transport to Spain. Same with Germany to some extent. In the past few years this tradition has come under fire. Wonder why....

Anyway, I am German American. My people brought you Santa. We were white, and therefore we created Santa in our likeness. Nevermind he was originally Turkish. We kind of forgot about that. Truth be told, Santa Claus comes from the legend of St. Nick. In a lot of German American homes, such as mine, we celebrated both figures. On December 6th my brother, sister, and myself put out our shoes for St. Nick. On December 24th we waited for Santa. When asked how they knew each other some of our relatives said they were twin brothers. Others explained St. Nick was the warm up act for Santa. Either way, it was a strategy in keeping the morale up among people during Advent. Much is to be done during Christmas. Stress and family drama affect everyone, young and old. While we didn't know Black Peter (Thank God, that stereotype does us no favors)  we knew his assistant Nicodimus who had no skin color assigned to him. But we were told Nicodimus left a switch for bad children. I am grateful this helper did not have a negative ethnic stereotype assigned to him. I believe my parents, just like many German Americans, believe racism is wrong. Also, we had been American for several generations. None of my siblings, parents, nor do I know German. Both my grandfathers represented America in World War II, and I have great uncles whom I never met that fought in WWI. But yeah, this is Santa...

As a German American, like Thomas Nast who drew the first fat Santa and made him white, I am proud of my heritage. The Santa I know is white because I am white. A white Santa was acceptable for some time because most of the children who celebrated Christmas were white. However, the face of Christmas has changed. Now many children of many nationalities celebrate in their own way, adding their own spice to what was once a one dimensional festivity. These same children also wait for a Santa Claus figure. That being said, the face of Santa should change along with the face of those who wait for him.

In the early days, Christian missionaries told people to create Jesus in their likeness. Therefore there are Jesus's of different races in churches around the world. I believe the same should go with Santa. I would like to see Coca-Cola do a campaign for the different faces of Santa. I would like to see, in addition to the white Santa, a black Santa, Latino Santa, Asian Santa, East Indian Santa, and anyone who I am forgetting. St. Nick, the man Santa is based off of, was generous and knew no class or strata. Neither should the legend as it grows. St. Nick was about including everyone. So should be the theme of the ever growing story of Santa. Christmas teaches us that we all count. Santa's changing face should show children of all colors that they count too, whatever they may be.

In closing, as a proud German American who can say her people brought Santa, it makes me proud to see that not just we believe anymore. Christmas means peace on Earth everywhere, for all people. So let Santa and the stories surrounding him include all people, too.

I Came, I Saw, I Sang: Memoirs of a Singing Telegram Delivery Girl

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