July 18, 2018, 6:34 pm
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Santa Claus versus Asiatic Dragons

“KING Awgwa and his band determined to carry out the threat to destroy Claus. They now hated him for two reasons: he made children happy and was a friend of the Master Woodsman...So the King sent swift messengers to all parts of the world to summon every evil creature to his aid.

“And on the third day after the declaration of war a mighty army was at the command of the King Awgwa. There were 300 Asiatic Dragons, breathing fire that consumed everything it touched. These hated mankind and all good spirits.” [L. Frank Baum. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Indianapolis: The Bowen-Merrill Company, 1902, pp. 113-114]

From one of the lesser-known sagas of Yuletide. Holy mistletoe! We need this particular Santa to safeguard us against the hegemonists prowling the West Philippine Sea.

Baum’s Claus (“The most Mighty and Loyal Friend of Children”) is merely one variant. Santa (a member of the Council of Legendary Figures) has also battled Jack Frost (Disney’s “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” 2006), extraterrestrials (Jalor Productions’ “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians,” 1964), even a demon (Churubusco–Azteca Studios Mexico’s “Santa Claus vs. the Devil,” 1959).

Saint Nicholas, Mikulás, De Kerstman, Father Christmas. Of the last, here are the passages from Narnia: “‘These are your presents,’ was the answer, ‘and they are tools not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well.’ With these words he handed to Peter a shield and a sword. The shield was the colour of silver and across it there ramped a red lion, as bright as a ripe strawberry at the moment when you pick it. The hilt of the sword was of gold and it had a sheath and a sword belt and everything it needed, and it was just the right size and weight for Peter to use.”

“‘Susan, Eve’s Daughter,’ said Father Christmas. ‘These are for you,’ and he handed her a bow and a quiver full of arrows and a little ivory horn. ‘You must use the bow only in great need,’ he said, ‘for I do not mean you to fight in the battle. It does not easily miss. And when you put this horn to your lips; and blow it, then, wherever you are, I think help of some kind will come to you’.”

“Last of all he said, ‘Lucy, Eve’s Daughter,’ and Lucy came forward. He gave her a little bottle of what looked like glass (but people said afterwards that it was made of diamond) and a small dagger. ‘In this bottle,’ he said, ‘there is cordial made of the juice of one of the fire flowers that grow in the mountains of the sun. If you or any of your friends is hurt, a few drops of this restore them. And the dagger is to defend you at great need. For you also are not to be in battle.” [C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe]

Thus, the Narnian version is an armorer of heroes. Sinterklaas, Miklavž, Kris Kringle. Want to join the club? Then enroll at the International School of Santa Claus, earn the degree of Master of Santa Claus, be elected into the Fraternal Order of Real Bearded Santas, or simply attend a SantaCon. “The first SantaCon took place in San Francisco in 1994 and was sponsored by The San Francisco Cacophony Society. The original inspiration came from an earlier SF adventure club called The Suicide Club whose founder came up with the idea after reading an article about a Danish political who mobbed a Copenhagen Department store just before Christmas. However, the first American and all subsequent SantaCons around the world are non-political, purely surreal Santa prank events.” [https://www.santacon.info/about.html]

Santa Claus commands many assistants, is married and even has siblings (Silver Pictures’ “Fred Claus,” 2007). His background: “Santa Claus’s roots lie far in the north. His place of birth is shrouded in the mystery of many tales, but we do know that centuries ago he made his home in Lapland, in the northernmost region of Finland. The Arctic Circle has always been a dear and delightful place for Santa, as many of the fairytale secrets of Christmas have their roots in this magical area.”

“Santa Claus has a number of hobbies, and we know he is interested in at least archaeology, astronomy and building snowmen. Sitting by the campfire and watching the amazing Northern Lights is something Santa loves doing, just as skateboarding and fishing. Santa Claus is also a great fan of taking naps, and above all, he simply loves reading all the letters he is sent. And he likes to write letters himself.” [https://santaclausoffice.com/storyofsantaclaus/]

You can break bread with him at any of his known addresses like Joulumaantie 1, 96930 Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland. Nordic or not, Claus is involved in many locales. “In Wales and Crete, he is invoked by fishermen. In Southampton and Tripoli he guards sailors and merchants. In Russia, he still protects communists from wolves. In Poland and France he brings husbands and babies. In Aberdeen and Bologna he gives passing marks to college students.” [http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/knickerbocker/]

Yes, a saint, but also an American commodity. “From 1931 to 1964, Coca-Cola advertising showed Santa delivering toys (and playing with them!), pausing to read a letter and enjoy a Coke, visiting with the children who stayed up to greet him, and raiding the refrigerators at a number of homes. The original oil paintings Sundblom created were adapted for Coca-Cola advertising in magazines and on store displays, billboards, posters, calendars and plush dolls. Many of those items today are popular collectibles.” [http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/coke-lore-santa-claus]

No wonder the Sons of Han are conflicted. “Shortly before Christmas in 2006, ten post-doctoral students from Peking University, Tsinghua University, and other elite colleges penned an open letter asking Chinese people to boycott Christmas and resist the invasion of ‘western soft power.’ They warned, ‘Christmas celebrators in China are doing what western missionaries dreamed to do but didn’t succeed in doing 100 years ago.’ The letter added, ‘Chinese people need to treat Christmas cautiously, and support the dominance of our own culture’.” [https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/12/what-china-lov...

And yet –“Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane / He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, he loves you just the same / Santa Claus knows we’re all God’s children, that makes everything right / So fill your hearts with Christmas cheer, ‘cause Santa Claus comes tonight” [Gene Autry’s “Here Comes Santa Claus”]
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