Christmas lore

early add from Coca Cola with rendition of Santa based partly on early traditions

An early LIFE magazine advertisement from Coca Cola with a rendition of Santa Claus

Christmas lore has continued to evolve with changing attitudes and culture in the western world though retaining bits of the original story line. Legends are based on facts often mixed with a good helping of imagination and wishful thinking and the contemporary version of Santa Clause [aka Saint Nicholas] is no different.  A Visit from St. Nicholas written in 1823, draws from various aspects of legends and myths “a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events”.

Also, 25 December considered the date of Christ’s birth was arguably borrowed from Persian god-man Mithra “friend” though the December mass was chosen out of convenience rather than drawing a relationship between the two. St. Nicholas, the Catholic bishop who was known for his charity, may have died a long time ago but the spirit of giving and goodwill towards all is something to aspire to.  Many generations of parents and elders continue to encourage children to connect with examples and symbols of peace and love.


Singing Christmas carols  is something people continue to enjoy today. Besides caroling as a youth, I sang with a madrigal group performing Christmas songs from various cultures [including Jewish Hanukkah]. Imagining a horse in the snow when singing Jingle bells inspired the collage above…

In the nineteenth century, reindeer flying through the air on a sleigh carrying old St. Nick with gifts was an elaboration based on the Catholic bishop, St. Nicolas who helped out some girls with a dowry to keep them from a life of prostitution. Nicholas “went to the house under the cover of night and threw three purses (one for each daughter) filled with gold coins through the window opening into the house.”

Mithra's ride using an early statue to the god-man of a Persian religion who was born on 25 Dec

“Mithra’s Ride” featuring an early statue of the god-man of the Persian religion who was born from a rock [or meteor] and ascended to the heavens to be with his parents Luna and Sol [sun and moon].

Mithra was a Persian god-man and savior. Worship of Mithra became common throughout the Roman Empire, particularly among their civil service and military. Mithraism was a competitor of Christianity until the late 4th century CE when Christianity became the state religion, Mithraism was suppressed, and its priests exiled or executed. Mithra was believed to have been born on DEC-25, circa 500 BCE. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and by Magi who carried gifts. His birthday was celebrated as the “Dies Natalis Solic Invite,” The “Birthday of the Unconquered Sun.” Some followers believed that he was born of a virgin. During his life, he performed many miracles, cured many illnesses, and cast out devils. He celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples. He was believed to have ascended to Heaven at the time of the spring equinox, about March 21. 1 His birth as the “Sun of Righteousness” was celebrated on DEC-25.”

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