Sunday, December 28, 2008

"Satan Claus"

For the record, I don’t have any basic problems with Christmas or various customs associated with Christmas. That said, it is striking to see the confluence between literary traditions of Satan and literary traditions of Santa Claus:

“The Devil is associated with certain places and certain times of day. His direction is north, the domain of darkness and penal cold. Lapland is a favorite place of his, and there he drives reindeer,” J. Burton, Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages (Cornell 1986), 69.

“The connections between the Devil and Santa Claus (Sinter Claes, Saint Nicholas) are pronounced. In addition to his association with the north and reindeer, the Devil can wear red fur; he is covered with soot and goes down chimneys in the guise of Black Jack or the Black Man; he carries a large sack into which he pops sins or sinners (including naughty children); he carries a stick or cane to thrash the guilty (the origin of the candy cane); he flies through the air with the help of animals; food and wine are left out for him as a bribe. The Devil’s nickname (!) of Old Nick derives directly from St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas was often associated with fertility cults, hence with fruits, nuts, and fruitcake, which are characteristic of his gifts,” ibid. 71n17.

I suppose the moral of the story is that, if you’ve been naughty rather than nice, you should keep your chimney damper firmly shut on Christmas Eve.

1 comment:

  1. That fruitcake is associated with Satan should come as a surprise to no one.