Friday, November 28, 2008

Saint Nicholas: the Truth Behind Santa Claus III of X

The truth about the origin of Santa Claus.

Something else that fashioned our modern day Santa was the popular medieval Christmas plays of the tenth through the sixteenth century. These miracle, moral, mystery and passion dramas acted out scenes from the scriptures and the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church. Combining humor and religion, they flourished during the fifteenth century. It is significant that St. Nicholas was a dominant theme among these plays. Much of the myth and outlandish miracles of St. Nicholas originated from these dramas. And much of the bizarre characteristics of Santa were planted in these Christmas plays.

In the classic, Teutonic Mythology, author Jacob Grimm provides us with some revealing detail into St, Nicholas’s transformation into Santa. Notice in the following excerpt from Teutonic Mythology where Nicholas converts himself into the Knecht Ruprecht, a "man of Clobes" or a "man of Claus." Grimm states, the characters of Nicholas and Knecht Ruprecht "get mixed, and Clobes [Claus] himself is the "man."

The Christmas plays sometimes present the Saviour with His usual attendant Peter or else with Niclas [St. Nicholas]. At other times however Mary with Gabriel, or with her aged Joseph, who, disguised as a peasant, acts the part of Knecht Ruprecht Nicholas again has converted himself into a "man Clobes" or Rupert; as a rule there is still a Niclas, a saintly bishop and benevolent being distinct from the "man" who scares children; the characters get mixed, and Clobes himself acts the "man." (qtd. in Siefker, Phyllis. Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1997, p. 69)

From Grimm’s account, in the early 1100’s, the transformation of St. Nicholas into Santa Claus from the devil Knecht Ruprecht was in full throttle.There is not enough space in this book to adequately document the influence and inspiration of the medieval plays into the making of Santa, but let us examine Santa’s trademark "Ho! Ho! Ho!". Most people have no idea where this came from, and more important whom it came from. . .

In The Drama Before Shakespeare - A Sketch, author Frank Ireson, describes the popular Miracle Play. Notice the description of the devil as "shaggy, hairy," etc. (as Santa), and notice the devil’s trademark "exclamation on entering was ho, ho, ho!":

Besides allegorical personages, there were two standing characters very prominent in Moral Plays—the Devil and Vice. The Devil was, no doubt, introduced from the Miracle Plays, where he had figured so amusingly; he was made as hideous as possible by his mask and dress, the latter being generally of a shaggy and hairy character, and he was duly provided with a tail: his ordinary exclamation on entering was, "Ho, ho, ho! what a felowe [sic] am I."(Ireson, Frank. "The Drama Before Shakespeare - A Sketch." 1920 ) In these plays, the devil’s common entry line, known as the "devil’s bluster," was "Ho! Ho! Hoh!"(Siefker, Phyllis. Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1997, p. 69)

The devil’s trademark "ho, ho, ho" was carried over from the early medieval Miracle Plays to the popular old English play "Bomelio," as the following lines from the play verify:

What, and a' come? I conjure thee, foul spirit, down to hell! Ho, ho, ho! the devil, the devil! A-comes, a-comes, a-comes upon me,. . . (Dodsley, Robert. A Select Collection of Old English Plays, Vol. VI. The Project Gutenberg Ebook. )

Another extremely popular character dominating the medieval plays was Robin Goodfellow (Robin Hood was created from him). Robin Goodfellow was a caricature of the devil, dressed with horns, shaggy, furs, and cloven feet.

Author Gillian Mary Edwards in Hobgoblin and Sweet Puck, provides some interesting insight into Robin Goodfellow:

One of the most popular characters in English folklore of the last thousand year
s has been the faerie, goblin, devil or imp known by the name of Puck or Robin Goodfellow. The Welsh called him Pwca, which is pronounced the same as his Irish incarnation Phouka, Pooka or Puca. Parallel words exist in many ancient languages - puca in Old English, puki in Old Norse, puke in Swedish, puge in Danish, puks in Low German, pukis in Latvia and Lithuania – mostly with the original meaning of a demon, devil or evil and malignant spirit. . . (Edwards, Gillian Mary. Hobgoblin and Sweet Puck. London: Bles Publishers, 1974, p. 143)

In The History of a Hobgoblin, author Allen W. Wright, reveals "Robin itself was a medieval nickname for the devil" and "Robin's trademark laugh is "Ho Ho Ho!":

Robin Goodfellow appeared in more plays around 1600. And there were many 17th century broadside ballads about him. . . Robin's trademark laugh is "Ho Ho Ho!" . . . Robin itself was a medieval nickname for the devil. (Wright, Allen W. "The History of a Hobgoblin." )

The original author is hidden today, but the devil’s trademark "Ho! Ho! Ho!" was common knowledge before the coming of Santa Claus.

Author Tony Renterghem, concludes his extensive research into the origin of Santa with the following statement:

I can only conclude that the original ancestor of our modern Santa Claus is none other than the mythological Dark Helper-a faint memory of Herne/Pan, the ancient shamanic nature spirit of the Olde Religion. (Renterghem, Tony van. When Santa Was a Shaman. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 1995, p. 93)

Note: Herne or Pan is the horned god. It is common knowledge that Pan and Herne are popular names for Satan. The Satanic Bible lists Pan as one of the Infernal Names of Satan. (LaVey, Anton Szandor. The Satanic Bible. New York: Avon Books, Inc., 1969 p. 144)

After researching scores of books and material on the origin of Santa Claus, by far, the best book on this subject is Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas, authored by the late University of Kansas associate, Phyllis Siefker. This is no child’s book, but a scholarly exploration into the origin of Santa Claus. It is published by the prestigious McFarland Publishers, a leading publisher of reference and academic books. This book carries no Christian bias, but is simply a secular, non Christian scholastic study. With that in mind, the following analysis by Siefkler is even more alarming:

The fact is that Santa and Satan are alter egos, brothers; they have the same origin. . . On the surface, the two figures are polar opposites, but underneath they share the same parent, and both retain many of the old symbols associated with their "father" . . . From these two paths, he arrived at both the warmth of our fireplace and in the flames of hell. (Siefker, Phyllis. Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas. Jefferson: McFarland & Company, Inc., 1997, p. 6)

Next we shall examine Santa in the light of the Word of God.


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