A Visit from Santa…Who You Might Not Recognize

Santa, as described in “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” was a tiny, soot-covered elf who looked “like a peddler.” Illustration: Arthur Rackham.
Many thanks to Mark Dimunation, chief of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, for his research help with this post.
People are always talking about the “traditional” Christmas that used to grace the American landscape, one that was somehow more pure, more spiritual and not caught up in commercialism. The problem is, no one can agree when that was, other than “a long time ago.” Snow was whiter. Air was colder. People were nicer.
The seasonal theme, it seems, is nostalgia.
For example, in the ever-popular “White Christmas,” sung by Bing Crosby in 1942, even then he was longing for a season “just like the ones I used to know.” Certainly we wouldn’t go all the way back to the Puritans, who considered religious spectacles, particularly around Christmas, to be

Original URL: https://blogs.loc.gov/loc/2020/12/a-visit-from-santa-who-you-might-not-recognize/

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