Tuesday, December 9, 2014

REVIEW: The Story of Santa Claus

The Story of Santa Claus
Joseph McCullough

Genre: Folklore & Mythology, Christmas, Religion & Spirituality
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publication date: 9.23.2014
Pages: 80

Recommended by: NetGalley, Read 2 Review
Date read: 12.7.2014

Summary: Every December 24th millions of children eagerly await a visit from a large, bearded man in a red suit.  But where did Santa come from and how did he evolve into today's Jolly Old Saint Nick?
            Well before the legendary poem "Twas the Night Before Christmas" shaped the modern vision of Santa Claus riding a flying sleigh pulled by magical reindeer, his story actually began about seventeen hundred years ago in the Eastern Roman Empire.  There, a young orphan named Nicholas became famous for using his inheritance to give gifts to the needy.  In his most wildly-known story, he threw bags of gold over a wall into a house of a destitute merchant, so that the man would not be forced to sell his daughters into slavery.  Eventually, this young and holy man became the Bishop of Myra and lived a life of faith and miracles, fighting injustice and protecting the weak.  Even after his death, his miracles continued, and he is credited with saving sailors, healing the sick, and even raising the dead.  In time, he became known as St Nicholas the Wonder Worker.
            In the numerous centuries since the passing of Saint Nicholas, his story has grown, developed, and been combined with numerous other legends.  In the Netherlands, he became known as Sinterkass, the old man who brought presents to children with the help of his assistant Zwarte Piet.  In England, he became Father Christmas, the living embodiment of the holiday.
            Fully illustrated with original color drawings, Santa Claus celebrates the story of his beginnings as a holy man in Ancient Rome, through his development in the Middle-Ages, to his current, likeness on advertisements, greeting cards, apparel and decorations - right down to real-life mall-based family photo pop.  It is a winding, magical tale filled with mystery and good will towards all men, sure to fill even the most jaded scrooges with a little bit of Christmas magic.
            A portion of all of the profits from this book will be donated to help disadvantaged children throughout the world.

I have always been interested in the story of Santa Claus, so when I saw this on NetGalley, I decided to give it a try.  I really liked it.  It's interesting, full of facts and stories - some I already knew, but others I didn't know or at least didn't know the full story on.  I love the old-fashioned looking cover, and there are some pretty pictures used throughout the book.  I also like that once we start discussing Santa, it becomes a little whimsical.  This was a fun read, if you're interested in the history and religions behind what we see of Santa now, but I wouldn't suggest sitting down and reading the whole thing to a child.  I would suggest sharing some of the information you read inside.  (For Krampus lovers, there is a small moment about him and some other Christmas demons as well.)

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