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Posts Tagged ‘St. Nick’

Santa is fat! When I was in the 4th grade, I played Santa Claus in our school play. Does that tell you anything?  I was the biggest kid in the class. If you want to work as a department store Santa, you have to either be fat or have a padded suit. The American Santa Claus is definitely fat.

Interestingly enough, most iterations of Saint Nick in the world are just the opposite.  Nikolaus in Germany is tall and lean. Some Nicks have scrawny beards and look like they have been sleeping on the streets since last Christmas.

Americans would never allow Santa to get so emaciated. We leave milk and cookies to fatten him up on the one night that he really works!

Now hold that thought!

Jesus is NEVER pictured as anything but lean! Occasionally in modern depiction, he might be burly—but NEVER fat!  Even Baby Jesus is never fat like the little cherubs that encircle the manger!

We have chosen our own pictures of both St. Nicolas and Jesus—since there are no photos of either.  So why are we only comfortable with a fat Santa and a lean Jesus?  It would be un-American to change one and sacrilegious to distort the other.

Here are a couple of thoughts:

  • It has to do with wealth and opulence. Santa is about gifts—lots of gifts! Santa is about feasts! Jesus, on the other hand, was poor. He had to borrow food from little kids or go to some wealthy person’s house for a big meal. His supper is just bread and wine.
  • It has to do with this world and the next.  Santa lives on top of the world. His “dominion” is material,  and he is celebrated because he operates in this world.  In contrast, Jesus’ message was about the kingdom of heaven being at hand. He left in a cloud, promising to come again and collect his own who will meet him in the air.

So the question is, who do we like better?  The guy who brings us stuff, who is fat and jolly and who loves a good party, or the lean, sober—sometimes sad—one, with no jingles, no cute stuffed red-nosed pets, and whose promises of good times all seem so long from now?

Knowing the world we live in, I suspect I know why Santa has stolen Christmas away from Jesus.

So who am I celebrating?

 

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