Consumer Capitalism Pushes Santa's Sleigh

December tends to be his busy month. He wears an idiosyncratic hat that matches his ermine-trimmed robes. His hobbies include anonymous altruism and generosity — especially when it comes to children.

“Our modern Santa Claus really comes from St. Nicholas,” said the Rev. Emilio Franchomme, pastor of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Platteville.

Each Dec. 6 — the feast day of St. Nicholas — a parishioner at every service dons a bishop’s vestments and pointed hat, called a miter. He strolls down the aisle of the church at the end of the service, gripping a pastoral staff called a crosier, and preaches about a fourth-century bishop named Nicholas.

“It’s a way to transmit our faith to the kids,” Franchomme said. “When they visualize something, they remember it better,” The Longmont Daily Times-Call reports.

Of course, reasonable minds know that Santa is none other than St. Nicholas, the third-century Greek Orthodox bishop whose legendary acts of Christian charity—for example, tossing gold through the window of a man so desperately poor he would have been forced to sell his daughters into slavery—gave rise to the myth of a kindly, bearded patriarch who comes, bearing gifts, in December.

But what really put booster rockets on Santa’s sleigh, Seal maintains, was consumer capitalism, via the cultural influence of local merchants and, in time, department stores and advertisers. “What actually drove Saint Nicholas to a revival was that, from the 1780s, the revolution in the creation of commercial products meant that gift-giving as a custom began to acquire fresh momentum,” he told NPR interviewer Renée Montagne. “Prior to that ... it had been the local exchange of handmade gifts. And suddenly objects were flooding in from Europe, particularly toys, and this meant that commercial, canny interests in Manhattan began to realize that St. Nicholas was a figure which could lead this transformation in the significance and importance of gift-giving,” The Las Vegas Weekly reports.

It was also reported, with Christmas coming up in just a few short days, sightings of Santa Claus have been increasing quite a bit lately — and that goes for the comics world, too. While Santa doesn’t appear in as many comics as he did in the Golden or Silver Age, there are still a few modern cameos we fondly remember.

Bill Willingham and Marc Buckingham introduce Santa into the “Fables” universe with this charming one-shot story that reveals exactly how Santa manages to deliver so many packages in one night. In a flashback sequence, Santa also runs into “Fables’” resident scoundrel, Jack Horner, as he attempts to steal “the naughty list.”

Meanwhile, under the pen of Keith Giffen and Alan Grant along with artist Simon Bisley, DC’s “Main Man” accepts a contract from the Easter Bunny to assassinate Santa Claus. A hilariously violent battle between Lobo and St. Nick ensues, leaving Lobo the last Czarnian standing, reports.

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