Santa Claus's wife is an American lady - a Christmas legend
Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus?
It must be really fun to be Santa Claus’s wife
Or Mrs. Santa Claus. Or Goody Santa Claus. Or, as others may call her different names, Merry, or Jessica Mary. Jessica Mary Claus sounds pretty good.
Because all you have to do is keep track of the “good or bad” list and tie the a scarf around Santa’s neck, when he goes delivering presents for Christmas. Maybe, from time to time, you take a ride in the sleigh, for the pure enjoyment of the ride, when is not that bad outside. And bake cookies. Yeah, it must be really fun to be Santa's wife.
Except for the fact that Santa’s wife is kinda of...how should I say it?....overweight. She is a fat lady..to be absolutely clear. But not obese yet. Which is a good thing. But still, you wonder why is she not loosing any weight since she is a public person, but not quite a celebrity, and needs to be a role model. However, her husband is fat too, please forgive my straight words, and they should make a plan together for weight loss.
And if you don’t take my word then read these:
- A Christmas legendby James Rees - 1849
- Yale Literary Magazine - 1851
- Harper’s Magazine - 1862
- Lill in Santa Claus Land and Other Stories by Ellis Towne, Sophie May and Ella Farman - 1878
- Goody Santa Claus by Katherine Lee Bates - 1889
But who am I to give Santa's wife a piece of advice? I don’t even know her very well. And I bet you don’t know her better either. As a matter of fact, she’s quite a novelty to the international Christmas tradition. Only since the movie era took off has she started to make an appearance around the world. Later, with the Internet, she has became a supporting actress on the Christmas set up.
However, she is better known in the North American continent, more specifically in the US. And this is because she is an American lady, probably born in the US from immigrants parents Her mother’s name may have been Gertrude, a name of Germanic origin, meaning “spear”.
How do I know this? Because other people, smarter and wiser then me, have looked her up and traced her down and wrote about her. I bothered to read their work and come up with facts, mixed with my own believes and theories.
Now, lets see what we know
In 1849, a writer and baptist missionary from Philadelphia, wrote a short story called A Christmas legend. He describes a poor family sitting by the fire in Christmas Eve. They discuss an important matter and their two children, a boy and a girl, are listening and wondering if Santa is going to come. The adults tells them that Santa doesn’t come to poor people and they better enjoy their last night in the house because next morning the land lord is going to send them away since they have no money to pay the rent. At some point they here a knock in the door. They open and an old couple steps in. They tell the family that they have to go to town but they are tired. The father invites them to sleep overnight.
In the morning, the children wake up to see their stockings filled with treats and other presents piled by the chimney.
In the kitchen, there are fresh backed goods on the table. Surprised, the father says:
“Now, good wife, knock of the door to our guests. Bid them come forth to our humble meal; they have been kind to our children, and their strange dress and manner assumed no doubt of purposes of their own, is no business of ours. Call them to breakfast.” p 98
Turns out that the strangers are no others then their long lost daughter and her husband. They say: “...this is Christmas morn, and we now appear, not as old Santa Claus and his wife, but as we are...”p98
This the oldest written reference to Santa’s wife, or Mrs. Claus.
Rees may have not invented her out of thin air. It is more then likely that he repeats here a general believe that Santa Claus is a married man, that, so to speak, has a family.
And this conclusion comes naturally after we get a closer look at a traditional American values at the time he writes. They emphasise the unity of the family and the christian ethic. More, as the American continent has been colonized mainly by protestants, tit is easy to assume that they continued to value the women’s role in society. Hence, Santa’s wife as a strong supporter but secondary partner of the whole Christmas enterprise.
This is an excerpt from Goody Santa Claus on a sleigh ride By Katharine Lee Bates, 1889
Santa, must I tease in vain, dear? Let me
go and hold the reindeer,
While you clamber down the chimneys.
Don’t give me that sour smirk!
Why should you have all the glory of the
joyous Christmas story,
And poor little Goody Santa Claus have
nothing but the work?
It would be so very cozy, you and I,
all round and rosy,
Looking like two loving snowballs in our
fuzzy Artic furs,
Tucked in warm and snug together,
whisking through the winter weather
Where the tinkle of the sleigh-bells is the
only sound that stirs.
Now the pack is fairly rifled, and poor
Santa’s well nigh stifled;
Yet you would not let your Goody fill a
single baby sock;
Yes, I know the task takes brains, Dear.
I can only hold the reindeer
And to see me climb down chimney – it
would give your nerves a shock.
Take the reins and let me show you what a
woman’s wit can do.
Puff! I’m up again, my Deary, flushed a bit
and somewhat weary,
With my wedding snow-flake bonnet worse
for many a sooty knock;
But be glad you let me wheedle, since, an
icicle for needle,
Threaded with the last pale moonbeam, I
have darned the laddie’s sock.
Then I tucked a paint-box in it (‘twas no
easy task to win it
From the artist of the Autumn leaves) and
frost-fruits white and sweet,
With toys your pocket misses – oh! And
kisses upon kisses
To cherish safe from evil paths the
motherless small feet.
Chirrup! Chirrup! There’s a patter of soft
footsteps and a clatter
Of child voices. Speed it, reindeer, up the
sparkling Artic Hill!
Merry Christmas, little people! Joy-bells
ring in every steeple,
And Goody’s gladdest of the glad. I’ve
had my own sweet will.
Shortly after, other writers are adding more details about her.
Yale Magazine says that she is helping her husband; in a comic novel, called The Metropolites, she is wearing boots and “a dozen of short, red petticoats”.
And so on...
from this point, the descriptions about Mrs. Santa Claus is only limited by the writers’ imagination.
Katharine Lee Bates put the icing on the cake when she wrote Goody Santa Claus on a sleigh ride in 1889. Her poem is a continuous dialog between Mrs. Santa and Mr. Santa.
The couples goes delivering Christmas presents. While they ride in the sleigh, Goody Santa reminds her husband of the work she is doing to prepare everything for Christmas and pleads to go down the chimney herself. As she is allowed with great doubt, Mrs. Santa does more then stuffing presents, she actually repairs one of the stockings. You can read an extract on the left side of this page.
All of the above mentioned, and many more that I did not, are American writers.
None of them is of a different geographical, political, or social location. This is a strong indication that Mrs. Santa Claus is an American lady. And the fact is quit normal, if you consider that Santa Claus, himself, had immigrated in America, some 200 plus years ago, from Europe. He makes a great figure on the new land and takes off as one of the most important character at the end of the year for millions of children.
Santa Claus’ wife is now a popular figure. Since she was first mentioned in Rees’s story, she had appeared in other novels, poems and plays. Later on, she was subject to movies and now, you’ll see her on the postal cards and other Christmas paraphernalia. You can even by a Mrs. Santa Clause costume, if you fill like! She became popular but only on the North America continent. The rest of the world continues to ignore her.
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