December 20, 2010

The Twelve Posts of Santa, Part II: Who are all these old men with bushy beards?

We've all heard about these old men wearing red outfits and sporting bushy white beards. But who are they really? Santa Claus or Father Christmas? We decided was about time to figure out who these dodgy characters are. Over the next eleven posts, we will be mapping references to the many names given to these old men (and women! and other creatures, too!) that we've collected, as documented in Part I of our series.

In this post we compare references to Santa Claus and Father Christmas in the British Isles. We see that Father Christmas is far more likely to be inscribed on the Christmassy landscape in England and Wales, while references to Santa Claus are more prevalent in Scotland and Ireland.
Father Christmas is traditionally associated with being the gift bearing bearded old man that visits children in the UK. So why do we see so many references to Santa Claus in Scotland and Ireland? Is this a cunning celtic plot to usurp the hegemonic British gift-giver (albeit replacing him with a central character in American culture)?

Based on our research, the Irish generally refer to this bearded old man with his nickname, "Santy". Our preliminary mapping failed to show a significant number of references to Santy, so perhaps the prevalence of the bearded man's full name in the cyberscape is indicative of the jolly guy's efforts to be taken more seriously amongst the Irish. Passing out gifts to billions of people in a matter of less than 24 hours is a lot of work, and Santa Claus doesn't appreciate his work being trivialized.

1 comment:

  1. Wow interesting thoughts, I've never really thought about it before.


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