The populist modern image of Father Christmas as a jovial, bearded, rotund gent in cuddly red and white-furred tunic and hat was invented by opiated drinks manufacturer Coca-Cola in 1929 as part of their burgeoning advertising campaign to conquer the world.
The drinks pusher had weathered several controversies since it’s inception in 1885, most notably in 1903, when they were forced to remove cocaine from the magic formula. With sugar being a marginally less addictive substance, they pushed forward on marketing as a health drink, and increasingly targeting children.
A figure that would reflect the red and white of their branding, and be more family friendly, seemed to combine all their desires to embed themselves in the public consciousness once and for all. Initially, the brother of the soda pumper’s CEO dressed up in a suit for photographs, before artist Haddon Sundblom was commissioned to paint their definitive Pa Yuletide in 1931.
Before that, St Nick had been a far darker character, entwined in sinister folklore designed to scare the living crap out of children by exhausted and vengeful parents. Krampus was an evil goat demon who would appear on the holiday to punish brats who had misbehaved over the previous year. This pagan vigilante was merged with the generous Christian saint in the 17th century to scare kids of all religions.
America, and naturally the free world, were relieved to cast off such dark, moral tales and revel in the festive cheer with a gullible smile on their face. After all, it’s so much more appetising to wean generations on a carbonated obesity-causing addictive fluid that will pollute minds and bodies over the course of a shortened lifetime.
Ho, ho, ho.