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2 0 1 5 T r a d i T i o n s M a g a z i n e 9 e poem was written by Clement Clark Moore, a professor of biblical lan- guages at new York's episcopal general eological seminary, to his chil- dren. anks to Clement Clarke Moore, the new York elite had succeeded in domesticating Christmas through a new "santa Claus" tradition. e poem and other descriptions of the santa Claus ritual appeared in more and more local pa- pers. More than anything else, "e night Before Christmas" introduced the custom of a cozy, domestic santa to the nation's Christmas tradition. other artists and writers continued to trans- form st. nick from the stately european bishop into the rosy-cheeked, elf-like, "santa Claus". What solidified santa's presence in american culture was his acceptance by the church. influenced by ger- man immigrants who loved Christmas, the growth of sunday schools in cities exposed hundreds of thousands of children to Christianity. initially opposed to Christmas observance, by the 1850s, sunday schools had discovered that a Christmas tree, santa and gifts, greatly improved attendance. so, in a strange twist of fate, the new "secular" santa Claus, was no longer seen as a religious figure, however he did help return Christmas observance to churches. By the end of the 1920s, a standard american santa— life-sized in a red, fur-trimmed suit—had emerged from the works of norman rockwell and other popular illustrators. e image was forever ingrained in the minds of americans in 1931 after Haddon sundblom, began 35 years of Coca-Cola santa ad- vertisements, firmly establishing santa as an icon of contemporary commercial culture. By the 1950s, santa was turning up everywhere as the official spokesman for holiday wonderment, endorsing an amazing range of consumer products. is commercial success led to the american santa Claus being exported around the world. it's been a long journey from the dutch sinterklaas, who rode in to town on a horse, to america's jolly ole' st. nick, whose largesse often reflects excess and luxury for the holiday season. However, if you peel back the layers of history, he still remains a generous figure re- warding the year long behavior of good little boys and girls. "His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry, His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow; He had a broad face and a little round belly, That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly. He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf. . . ."

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