Most people can agree on what Santa Claus looks like – jolly, with a red suit and a white beard. But he didn’t always look that way, as Coca‑Cola advertising actually helped shape this modern-day image of Santa.
The Coca-Cola company has had many additional influences besides inventing the modern concept of Santa in their 1931 ad campaign. Wikipedia explains the history of the company here, and many criticisms of it here. Here is the short list without elaboration!
The Coca-Cola Company, its subsidiaries and products have been subject to sustained criticism by both consumer groups and watchdogs, particularly since the early 2000s. Allegations against the company are varied and criticism has been based around; possible health effects of Coca-Cola products, questionable labour practices (including allegations of involvement with paramilitary organisations in suppression of trade unions), the company’s poor environmental record, perception of the companies’ engagement in monopolistic business practices, questionable marketing strategies and violations of intellectual property rights. Perception of the company as behaving unethically has led to the formation of pressure groups such as “Killer Coke”, boycotts of Coca-Cola and related products and lawsuits.
But Coke gave us that jolly image of Santa, which has been described in Wikipedia as a positive male cultural icon:
Santa is really the only cultural icon we have who’s male, doesn’t carry a gun, and is all about peace, joy, giving, and caring for other people. That’s part of the magic for me, especially in a culture where we’ve become so commercialized and hooked into manufactured icons. Santa is much more organic, integral, connected to the past, and therefore connected to the future.
Which raises another question… is this unusual male icon really male?
Santa is a Woman?
I think Santa Claus is a woman … I hate to be the one to defy sacred myth, but I believe he’s a she.
Think about it. Christmas is a big, organized, warm, fuzzy, nurturing social deal, and I have a tough time believing a guy could possibly pull it all off!
For starters, the vast majority of men don’t even think about selecting gifts until Christmas Eve. It’s as if they are all frozen in some kind of Ebenezerian Time Warp until 3 p.m. on Dec. 24th, when they – with amazing calm – call other errant men and plan for a last-minute shopping spree.
Once at the mall, they always seem surprised to find only Ronco products, socket wrench sets, and mood rings left on the shelves. (You might think this would send them into a fit of panic and guilt, but my husband tells me it’s an enormous relief because it lessens the 11th hour decision-making burden.) On this count alone, I’m convinced Santa is a woman. Surely, if he were a man, everyone in the universe would wake up Christmas morning to find a rotating musical Chia Pet under the tree, still in the bag.
Another problem for a he-Santa would be getting there. First of all, there would be no reindeer because they would all be dead, gutted and strapped on to the rear bumper of the sleigh amid wide-eyed, desperate claims that buck season had been extended. Blitzen’s rack would already be on the way to the taxidermist.
Even if the male Santa DID have reindeer, he’d still have transportation problems because he would inevitably get lost up there in the snow and clouds and then refuse to stop and ask for directions.
Add to this the fact that there would be unavoidable delays in the chimney, where the Bob Vila-like Santa would stop to inspect and repoint bricks in the flue. He would also need to check for carbon monoxide fumes in every gas fireplace, and get under every Christmas tree that is crooked to straighten it to a perfectly upright 90-degree angle.
Other reasons why Santa can’t possibly be a man:
- Men can’t pack a bag.
- Men would rather be dead than caught wearing red velvet.
- Men would feel their masculinity is threatened … having to be seen with all those elves.
- Men don’t answer their mail.
- Men would refuse to allow their physique to be described even in jest as anything remotely resembling a “bowlful of jelly.”
- Men aren’t interested in stockings unless somebody’s wearing them.
- Having to do the “Ho Ho Ho” thing would seriously inhibit their ability to pick up women.
- Finally, being responsible for Christmas would require a commitment.
I can buy the fact that other mythical characters are men …
- Father Time shows up once a year unshaven and looking ominous.
- Cupid flies around carrying weapons.
- Uncle Sam is a politician who likes to point fingers.
Any one of these individuals could pass the testosterone screening test. But not St. Nick. Not a chance. As long as we have each other, good will, peace on earth, faith and Nat King Cole’s version of “The Christmas Song,” it probably makes little difference what gender Santa is.
I just wish she’d quit dressing like a guy!!!
No consideration of Santa would be complete without this naughty song from 1953! Eartha Kitt has her own list of requests: I hope Santa was paying attention!.