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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santa Claus

Today, December 6, is the feast of St. Nicholas, a Turkish Bishop who became the patron saint of children, Bankers, Sailors...and prostitutes (St. Nicholas supposedly saved some girls from becoming prostitutes when their parents impoverished state had slated them for this profession as they didn't have doweries.)

In several European countries, particularly the Netherlands, Sinter Claus comes visiting and leaves toys and sweets for the good girls and boys and punishment with switches for the bad boys and girls.

This custom led to the American adaptation of Santa Claus which was furthered by writings of members of the old Knickerbocker Club and of course, Clement Moore's "Twas the Night before Christmas."  I recommend Stephen Nissenbaum's "The Battle For Christmas" as a fascinating and well written history of the origins of Christmas observances in America.

I have a collection of Santa Claus figures...started when I was about 3 years old with the gift of a neighbor.  I added to it in the 1990s.  This particular one was given to me by my friend Martha.  This santa's robes were made with a section of crazy quilt trimmed with ostrich feathers.  I used to struggle with the cutting up of old quilts, but I came to understand that sometimes this was the only way that any of them would be saved.  I suppose in some ways it is just the continuance of an element of quilting, taking old worn out things or scraps from garment constrution and giving them a new life.

At any rate, this Santa Claus is now one of my treasured pieces.

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