Our Winter's Tale: The Evolution of Santa Claus

Our Winter's Tale: The Evolution of Santa Claus
 
 Starts at 6:30 pm

An evening lecture with mulled wine exploring the origins of Christmas from Saturnalia to Santa Claus—by way of Krampus & the Christmas Cat

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Everyone has an idea of the Perfect Christmas. How this looks will vary from person to person, or family to family – it could be as simple as a holiday without arguing or as grand as a ski getaway – but if I say to you now “envision the Perfect Christmas” most of you might conjure images of a fir tree decked with baubles, outdoor Christmas markets, mulled wine, shopping in the snow, children leaving treats for Santa and his reindeer, curling up in pyjamas watching Christmas films on TV – and nothing could be more Christmasy than a film about someone finding the Meaning of Christmas.

But what is the Meaning of Christmas? What is the Perfect Christmas? If I asked your grandparents, they might not share your vision. And if I asked your grandparents’ grandparents, they would probably be scandalised by your Perfect Christmas! However, a few generations further back still, they would probably wonder where your Lord of Misrule had gone and why you hadn’t planned any pranks on your neighbours. And if we go back long enough into your family tree, they wouldn’t celebrate anything you’d recognised as a Christmas celebration at all.

No Christian winter festival existed until the fourth century, at which point Christmas gradually began to take over from existing festivals like Saturnalia and January Kalends in the Roman Empire and eventual from Yule in Scandinavia. This is where my tale begins. From the medieval period, through the Reformation and Protestant adaptation, we will take a deep dive into the evolution of Christmas. By tracing the Protestant beginnings of early Father Christmas and Old Man Winter representations as a reaction against celebrating the Catholic saint St Nicholas in Protestant England, we’ll explore how these early Protestant Christmas Men – with many European winter figures of folklore in between – paved the way for a holiday based on a literary and cinematic heritage, manifesting in the fully secular and globalised Santa Claus figure we recognise today.

Cost: £15


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2019-12-18 18:30 2019-12-18 18:30 Europe/London Our Winter's Tale: The Evolution of Santa Claus An evening lecture with mulled wine exploring the origins of Christmas from Saturnalia to Santa Claus—by way of Krampus & the Christmas Cat https://www.ianvisits.co.uk/calendar/2019/12/18/our-winters-tale-the-evolution-of-santa-claus-220259 Geffrye Museum,136 Kingsland Road, London, London,

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Location

Geffrye Museum,

136 Kingsland Road, London,
London,
E2 8EA

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