There really needs to be an historical investigation on so many different varieties on the theme of Santa. How come there are a dizzying number of personages claiming to be the original Santa. There is the Bishop from Spain with a servant called black Pieter or Pete by its more colloquial name. He travels to Holland on a White Horse. This Bishop wears a mitre with a white beard and despite this neat attire he climbs down sooty chimneys to either bring gifts to good children or a good thrashing to naughty ones.
Today, the 5th of Dec. Saint Nicholas is being celebrated in Holland. There is wild uninhibited dancing on the streets and herrings are being freely traded on the Amsterdam Bourse and Dam Square.
He, the Bishop of Spain as mentioned before, hails (logically) from Spain and he mucks around in Holland on the 5th of December when the good children are scared witless by black Pieter (Pete). However, the presents make up for the scary bits and the Dutch children’s tears soon dry up. In Spain no one has heard about him. A bit like that Dutch fable of someone holding a finger in the dyke; world famous legend except totally unknown in The Netherlands.
Of course in winter the Dutch during Santa’s ride over roofs don’t have fires going. Just imagine the ire from the Bishop singeing his mitre or blackening his beard while clambering down a red-hot chimney? Most Dutch families therefore sit in the dark corner of the room, shivering, while staring at the chimney. His future is in doubt while many are now claiming poor old black Pete to be a product of racism. There is no peace or understanding in traditions anymore. All is tinged with pc. When will it stop?
Then there is an Anglo/American Santa. He rides in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and is hailed from Finland or Disney Land. He humms and does ho, ho, ho. In Finland there are bits of Sibelius’ ‘Finlandia’ thrown in for good measure. In Lapland he is also known as Father Christmas not so much as Santa. He brings presents on Christmas Eve. He is a more generous version than the pure Anglo Santa by giving presents to both good and naughty children. The only thrashing in Lapland is of the stubborn reindeers. In England of course, especially during Charles Dickens days both children and reindeer got daily beatings, keeping it all in the hallowed tradition of ‘teach the bastards a good lesson’. 😉 It is all so complicated.
They escape blame now by pointing out that the nasty Santa comes from Swedish Lapland. It is confusing especially when over the last few years children are put on soft bosomed female Santa’s knees. So many bishops have done bad things no one trusts the male clergy of any domination in England. In Australia too, male Santa has been put on the backburner. He is skulking at home and suffers from deep depression. The male Santas now seek counselling but end up kicking the cat and are nasty to bank tellers.
The female Santas in the meantime do a roaring trade with the mums and no doubt get a sling back from the photographer immortalizing the littlies in black and white.
I don’t know the cultural intricacies of Santa/and or Bishops in America. They have a mixture of both and I have heard that turkeys are involved. They traditionally eat turkeys at Thanksgiving but also eat them a few weeks later again, with relish (or without relish) at Christmas. They, the turkeys must be terribly nervous there.
Thanksgiving is when many Americans dance around haystacks and hand bound sheafs of wheat, all spread in neat rows on the stubbled yellow land, not unlike a Vincent’s painting. In the evening they partake of a large oven roasted turkey with a dessert of pairs of pared pears and fresh cream.
Lately, the turkeys have been given presidential pardons so, they go gobble, gobble even lustier, till…come Christmas and Santa holding a sharp cleaver hidden up his sleeve, creeps behind many a hapless (and soon headless) turkey. Turkeys then prefer to lay low hidden in the crofts of old leaning sheds and at the back of very rusty Ford utilities resting underneath old willow trees.
You can tell Santa is getting close when “the running of the shoppers” start. The atmosphere within giant shopping Malls, the holy Mecca for shoppers, crackles with static combustion caused by the frantic fanatical movements of shoppers running manically en masse through shopping aisles. Huge hams are being fought over. Children get smacked ripping into overblown sized bags of Violet Crumble bars while sitting in the trolley on top of mum’s bacon rashes. Husbands look pale, frightened and wait in Japanese cars below in grim concrete parking bunkers. From Germany a report is coming in from someone being beaten senseless by a frozen turkey that was being swung around by an elderly gent, overcome by the relentless jingle bell, jingle bell chiming.
Garlic bread is suffering a late run and so are crumbed calamari, stuffed olives and jars of maple “flavoured’ syrup.
One young lady wearing a T-shirt which had ‘fu*k U’ written on it, went for some early snifters of Christmas spirit. She was found spreadeagled over at ‘smallgoods’ on top of a raw Kiev chicken that had been pre-marinated in Finland Vodka.
Many Santas now do courses in self esteem with the help of white boards and large textures while also throwing pillows at each other. Is it any wonder? Who can blame them/
Dear Santa, give us our daily rye bread with just a slice of smoked salmon. (A Dutch croquette would be nice too.)It all taste so good and nice.
Tags: America, Amsterdam, Black Pieter, Finland, Santas
Posted in Gerard Oosterman |