Saturday, December 23, 2006

Modern Santa debuts in Civil War political cartoon

Santa, as we have come to know him, first appeared on the cover of the Jan. 3, 1863 Harper's Weekly magazine in a Thomas Nast cartoon.

It wasn't a pretty sight as the big elf actually appears to be hanging an effigy of Jefferson Davis.

Davis was the president of the Southern Confederacy; Nast was a Northerner working for the abolitionist Harper's Weekly.

Santa? Well, he was up for grabs.

There's a lot more going on in the cartoon, as described on the web site of the Son of the South.

I have gleaned some other mildly irreverent facts about Christmas from a card I used to send out called "The Truth about Christmas."

Illustration courtesy
Son of the South
Civil War site,
used with permission

• The Christian church didn't celebrate Christ's birth until the 4th Century A.D. Deaths of martyrs, not births, were celebrated before then. The Easter season was BIG, long before Christmas.

• The Bible doesn't mention a date for the nativity. December 25 was probably appropriated from pagan worship, and many Christmas rituals are derived from pagan observances of the winter solstice.

• The earliest mass exchange of gifts and the commercialization of Christmas started in the mid-Nineteenth Century.

• Thanks to the "Christmas Spirit," as much as 50 percent of sales in some retail categories occur between the end of October and December.

May our celebration of this season, with its many traditions, renew our efforts to bring Peace on Earth.



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