As the days are nearing their shortest of the year, and the holidays are upon us, probably the most famous fur wearing personality of the season has had many names around the world over the centuries; Saint Nicholas, Père Noël, Kriss Kringle, Sinterklaas, and Father Christmas.
But today we simply know him as Santa Claus.
Although there are several legends about the real man behind the story, who was born around 270 AD, we always see him depicted in a fur trimmed suit. You may think his furry attire likely related to the winter season being associated with the characture of Santa, but the man Saint Nicholas (patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, brewers, pawnbrokers, and students in various cities and countries around Europe) had worn Bishop’s robes with fur, which at the time were traditionally in red and white. Over the next 1500 plus years, he evolved to his current jolly elf-like image, but still in a fur trimmed suit. And during that evolution in the year 1823, a poem destined to become immensely popular, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” now better known as “The Night Before Christmas”, describes Santa’s attire with the line,
“He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot”.
Makes complete sense to me. After all, he travels in a open sleigh all around the world, all in one night, just after winter solstice.
It’s been a long journey from a fourth century bishop of Myra who showed extraordinary kindness and generosity to those in need, to the modern personification.
If we go back far enough, we can all count each other cousins as members of the human race. And I choose to believe that cousin Saint Nicholas’s warm and loving spirit is alive in all of us.
Even the Grinches.
With Lots of Furry Love for the Holiday Season, and always,