Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ch. 2 - From Fiery to Fat Santa

Since we have come to know the origins of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus to be an amalgamation of stories from the Greek Orthodox Saint who left coins in the shoes of his worshippers through the English's' adoption of the Dutch Sinterklass to the American commercial star whom brings retail to us revelers each and every December, it is no surprise one of St. Nick's incarcerations has been left out of the historical accounts. And I am here to recant the tale of the fat, French St. Nick.

Many years ago a French Santa made a monumental and destructive move that would change Christmas forever. During the dawn of the French Revolution Santa was about to enter the home of a farm family just outside of town. Upon peering into the front window, he sees a family gathering of shoes signaling their belief in the tradition so Santa systematically tried the front door. Drat! This family has sealed the door shut. This unforeseen mishap happened home after home this year in a new move to secure against nightly revolutionaries gone astray from their aristocratic targets making this December evening a bumbling breaking and entering event one after the other. Santa was furious! All he wanted was to leave coins-out of his own pocket mind you-and he has been foiled, toiled, scratched, and bruised. Instead of trying a cumbersome chimney or window, Santa Klaus broke the front door down and in a hurry and threw the treasured coins onto the ground not even trying to fill the shoes. As he turned to leave and storm out in a huff, his winter wear sleeve caught on the wooden hat rack . With a violent shake, he threw it to the floor and the garments hung to dry flew into the fire catching ablaze instantly, spreading to the rack, and quickly throughout the entire house. Santa fled the scene terrified of what he had done in frustration leaving the family to fend for themselves. Flames engulfed the entire home of wood and hay in merely moments.

When the smoke cleared in the morning, three of the family burned to death while the two youngest picked through the ashes to save any remnant of their full lives the day before. What they found was little but when shrill cries streamed through the air it came to be known that the young children came upon St. Nick's coins forever sealing his myth of devastating homes he visits.

The following year homes all over France left sweets and small gifts to appease the crazed Saint and deter his anger for another year for there was no rhyme or reason why he let fire loose in the good farm family's home. Maids and mothers picked berries and bartered for sugars so that their children and livelihoods were protected. Fathers and sons brought in buckets and buckets of milk to be churned into butter. Pounds of flour was acquired and the wood-burning stoves burned for hours on end. It is said that the fear of St. Nick's fiery rage was so great, women baked for weeks on end to create the most delightful of dishes in the most copious amounts that they could. Eventually, succeeding generations of Santas were men not only drawn to the spirit of holiday giving but also of receiving-more specifically, the offering of free homemade, delicious scrumptious treats resulting in Santas getting fatter and fatter each year. This French ritual made its way to America and has been shared by the citizens and immigrants to the New Land ever since. Over time coins turned to presents and while not another suffered like the French farm family, legend tells pieces of coal are left as a diabolical reminder of what hell fires of death could be if St. Nick starts to not meant to feel jolly upon entering a home on Christmas morning.


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