Monday, December 26, 2011

Nast's Santa Claus Does Nothing for Union Morale 149 Years Ago

From the Dec. 23rd Staunton (Va) News-Leader "Nast's Civil War Santa Claus failed to boost Union morale" by Charles Culbertson.

It had been a long, hard and generally losing war effort for the Union in 1862 and the Christmas season found an essentially stalemate existing.

At this time, however, the North received dear old Santa Claus in his definitive and now-recognized form.

Thomas Nast, a Bavarian-born son of German immigrants had made a name for himself as a political cartoonist and illustrator for Harper's Weekly and Franl Leslie's Illustrated Magazine. He created a character for Santa based on a 4th Century bishop in Asia Minor named St. Nicholas who had become known to the western world as patron saint for children and a symbol of Christmas.

Until 1862, he had been "portrayed as tall and cadaverous," to the point of being frightening to children. Nast fattened him up and dressed him in a gaudy red suit with white trim, a flowing white beard and a bag of toys.

Even so, historians agree that dear old Santa didn't cheer up the Union troops.

How Sad. --Old B-R'er

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