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I remember waking before dawn on Christmas morning to the heavy weight of my filled Christmas stocking at the end of the bed. My sisters and I would gather together and dump out our goodies before racing downstairs to wake my parents. The magic of Santa made Christmas Eve one of anticipation and mystery.
The American version of Santa Claus arrived with settlers in the 17th century and received its inspiration from the Dutch legend of Sinterklaas. Illustrator Thomas Nast is credited with our vision of a plump Santa which he drew for issues of Harper’s magazine from the 1860s to the 1880s:
*Click on thumbnails to enlarge
In North American poetry and legend, Santa Claus takes to the sky on the night before Christmas in a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer. The idea of him climbing down chimneys to leave gifts inside stockings hung on the mantlepiece is beautifully rendered in Clement Clarke Moore’s poem TwasThe Night Before Christmas (alternatively known by the title: A Visit from St. Nicholas), first published in 1822.
Jan Brett is my favorite author and illustrator of children’s books. Her illustrations are colorful, lively and filled with woodland animals and beautiful children. She has written several books about Christmas and Santa including:
Christmas Treasury – a compilation of Brett’s favorite winter and Christmas tales including The Mitten, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, Trouble with Trolls, The Twelve Days of Christmas, The Hat, Christmas Trolls, and The Night Before Christmas.
The Night Before Christmas (a poem by Clement Moore) – the classic poem with amazing illustrations of Santa and his reindeer.
The Wild Christmas Reindeer – a story about a Scandanavian girl named Teeka who must ready the reindeer for their journey on Christmas Eve.
I have never lost my fascination for the legend of Santa Claus with his tradition of giving gifts on the Eve of Christmas. Over the years I have collected Santas which I proudly display at this time of year
I have a treasured collection of limited-edition Santas by Woof & Poof (they also make other festive figures and stockings). Most of the Woof & Poof line is musical as well:
(**Click on all photos to enjoy a larger view)
I love the detail as you can see in these close up views…the tiny bells and clock buttons for example.
I also have a small collection of Santa figures from a variety of sources. These two wooden balls are hand carved and painted with Santa features (by artist Bob Stebleton):
And here are a couple more from my collection (including a cloth Santa made from an old quilt which a friend of mine sent me one Christmas):
So, what would be a post about Santa without a BOOK GIVE-AWAY!?!? And since Santa delivers around the world, this give-away is open INTERNATIONALLY. For those of you who would like the chance to win Jan Brett’s hard cover edition of The Wild Christmas Reindeer…please email me at bloggiveaway (at) aol (dot) com with the subject heading “SANTA“. I will accept emails until December 23rd at midnight and will draw a winner on Christmas Eve!