Welcome to FRIDAY FASHION FACT: Christmas Edition! Today we’re talking about the history of the iconic fur trimmed red Santa Suit. (Note: we are talking specifically about Santa Claus, not St. Nicholas who has been depicted in bishop’s garb for centuries.)
Most people believe that Coca Cola created the modern Santa suit, and while they did have a huge part in popularizing the image, it is not their creation (nor does the company claim that it is.)
In 1863, Thomas Nast created the “Santa Claus in Camp” drawing for Harper’s Weekly Magazine, depicting Santa in a night cap and fur jacket at a Union camp during the American Civil War, which was waging at the time. It is believed he may have been influenced by Clemente Clark Moore’s 1823 poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas, now known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. The poem features the line “He was dress’d all in fur, from his head to his foot,” as well as descriptions of Santa’s white beard and rosy cheeks. Throughout the remainder of the 19th Century, Nast built upon his image of Santa, depicting the suit in both red and occasionally green.
In the early 20th Century, other artists used Nast’s image of Santa as inspiration now and again, decked in the red fur suit and white beard, but more or less appearing as a normal man. The Coca Cola Company began to use Santa Claus in advertisements in the 1920s, in the same simple manner as any other company. However, in 1931, artist Haddon Sundblom pulled inspiration from both Nast’s images and Moore’s poem, and created the depiction of a jolly, plump, rosy-cheeked beaming Santa for a Coke advertisement that appeared in The Saturday Evening Post, and the image took off. The rest is history!
Have a questions about fashion history that you want answered in the next FRIDAY FASHION FACT? Just click the ASK button at the top of the page!
Twas the Flight Before Christmas, a Christmas story for the jet age
’Twas the flight before Christmas, and all through the plane, The folks in row nine were going insane. The cabin staff were trying to placate them with care, In hopes the air marshal would soon be there.
The passengers were passed out, drunk, in their beds, Half of them with luggage banned by the Feds; And the co-pilot next to me and the cabin girls on our laps, Had just settled down for a quick overnight nap.
When out in the aisle there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my seat to see what was the matter. Away to the doorway I flew like a flash, And told the passengers to settle down or get a taste of the lash.