Where Do Santas Come From?

11/12/2012 § Leave a comment

Santa.

In the early 60s, America’s “No.1 Santa” (of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade fame) set up shop in Albion, New York and created the country’s only school of its kind, to certify Santas for department stores.  These photos, taken for Life Magazine by Alfred Eisenstaedt of the graduating class of 1961, were too good not to share.  After paying $75 and attending a five-day course, newly-minted Kris Kringles received a Santa’s Helper degree, well-armed with the history of Santa Claus, practice applying makeup and selecting costumes, and how to be properly jolly — even if they found a crier or a beard-puller on their lap.  If you’d like to read the original article the photos were shot for, you can find it here.

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Santa.All photos via the Life Archive.

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Dial MUrray Hill 8-2205 for Santa

25/12/2011 § 4 Comments

“Hello, Santa Claus.  How you feel?”  Jo Ann Ward, 3.

In December of 1947, New York children could dial MUrray Hill 8-2205 and be directly connected with Santa Claus, to discuss their Christmas lists and other such business.  The phone number was actually answered by a small staff of Santas at the world-famous toy shop F.A.O. Schwarz, which did not employ a costumed Santa because they felt it might disappoint some children.  So fascinated by the prospect of a chat with Santa, some children wanted to talk all day.

To view the original article, which appeared in the
December 15, 1947 issue of LIFE, head here.

The F.A.O. Schwarz Santas, hard at work.

All images via the LIFE Archive.

Yes, Virginia, there is…

24/12/2011 § 2 Comments

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Unsigned editorial (written by Francis Pharcellus Church), appeared in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897.

View the original clipping here, courtesy of the Newseum.

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