Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug
Santa Claus is a tradition that needs little explanation, or so we originally believed.  We thought it was universally accepted that Santa (a.k.a. Saint Nick) is a ruddy, jolly fellow who lives at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, a frolic of elves and herd of reindeer; the elves and Santa work together all year in preparation for his sleigh ride on the night of December 24th.  But we recently learned that Wisconsin has some of its own traditions with regard to Christmas, one of which is to put your shoes outside your door on the night of December 5th and the next morning you can see if Saint Nicholas left you a gift in them, which is how Everett received his first set of Play-Doh.  Our friends from Wisconsin say this has been a local family tradition for many generations, but we also have several friends from Germany who swear that this originated in Europe.  It goes without saying that both of these theories could be true, especially considering the large German population that has come to Wisconsin over the last two centuries.  Of course, this is a minor discrepancy compared to the Dutch Christmas tradition as described by David Sedaris.  Briefly: Saint Nick is the former Bishop of Turkey who now lives in Spain, he is quite thin and dresses like the Pope, and at some point in November he will arrive by boat and white horse to either put gifts in the children’s clogs or dole out discipline with a switch.  What seems interesting is that some cultures have embraced Santa, some St. Nick and some both.  After doing a little research on the subject it seems that the roots of Santa Claus really are in Saint Nicholas, and that even though some view them as synonymous, Santa began to diverge from Saint Nick about 200 years ago.  The traditions that exist today are an odd mixture of historical facts and fanciful tales.

Whoever you believe in, a natural next question is: where do you find him?  In the U.S. it’s a pretty safe bet that you will find one or two Santas at the nearest mall.  But if you are in Milwaukee then a much better bet is the Santa Rampage, a (semi) organized all day bike tour of the city, the purpose of which is to spread holiday cheer in a convivial, bicycle-friendly atmosphere (average speed this year: 4.43 mph, which factors in several long stops at popular local establishments).

Everett did not meet Santa on the Rampage, partly because it wasn’t exactly an event for children and partly because he was taking a nap.  Instead he met Santa on the East Troy Electric Railroad Christmas Express,
Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

although they did not exactly hit it off.  In fact, Everett seemed a little freaked out, and I can’t really blame him.  Santa is an oddly dressed stranger in whose lap he must sit for reasons that are not yet clear to him.  There is no time to warm up to each other prior to this meeting because there is a long line of children waiting for the same chance.

The association of Christmas candy and gifts will probably help this relationship in time, but until then Everett seems happier when Santa is viewed at a distance.

No comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Powered by WordPress
Natural World RapidWeaver theme by ThemeFlood