Santa Claus Through the Ages

The holiday season is upon us, as it seems another year has flown by. I love this time of the year and also love collecting vintage Christmas items.

Today’s holiday themed post is about Santa Claus.

Did you know that the first mention of Santa Claus in the colonies reportedly in a 1773 newspaper? His name is an Americanized version of the Dutch “Sinterklaas.” However, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that Santa Claus really got much notice.

Our modern day Santa is always jolly and plump, clothed in his red suit, but he wasn’t always so. Here are a couple of slim versions of the old guy:

Packing the Last Bag, 1908
Source: Library of Congress

Hark the Herald Angels Sing, 1911
Source: Library of Congress

I’ve read that Santa didn’t really begin to plump up until the Coca Cola Santa advertisements in the 1940s, but that isn’t true, since this 1903 Santa Claus looks plump and jolly to me:

When We All Believe, 1903
Source: Library of Congress

Santa also wasn’t always dressed in red. Different cultures and countries had their own take on how Father Christmas, as he was often called, looked. Antique postcards that show Santa in a suit other than red are often more valuable than the typical red and white garb.

Here is Father Christmas on an old trade card, pretty in pink, although it just may be that the red has faded over the last century!

Santa Postcard

Santa didn’t always travel by reindeer, either:

Merry Christmas Postcard

On this day, he chose his green suit:

Jolly Christmas Postcard

Maybe here he wanted to blend in with the snow:

Santa in White Postcard

Lastly, Santa is a bit more weathered looking in this scene, where he got caught in snow flurries:

A Jolly Old Fashioned Christmas Postcard

All of these cards date to the early 1900s and are from my personal collection. Santa really hasn’t changed much over 200 years, except that he is always chubby, smiling and wearing red today.

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