Rescuing St. Nicholas from Santa Claus!
“Santa Claus is becoming too popular and it is the Americanization of our society that people are afraid of,” said Wim Kunst, Assen, the Netherlands.
As this sentiment increased among Europeans during the early 1990s, action groups sprang up to save or protect St. Nicholas as their authentic traditional gift-giver. People in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic, spoke out as they felt their St. Nicholas customs were under threat from American Santa Claus. Santa Claus is often seen abroad as a symbol of global consumer capitalism. This view is interpreted as rewarding individual self-interest over self-giving. In reaction to this American cultural imperialism, action movements developed to support, strengthen, or return to traditional customs, food, and gift-givers.
In some places—the Netherlands and Belgium— the goal is simply to delay Santa and everything Christmas until after St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas) is finished on December 6. In others—Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic—the intent is to completely avoid the Weihnachtsmann/, the Christmas Man or Santa in favor of the traditional gift-givers, Sankt Nikolaus for St. Nicholas Day and Christkind who comes at Christmas.
In the Czech Republic
In the Netherlands
Bowler, Gerry, Santa Claus: A Biography, McClelland & Stewart Ltd, 2005. Purchase from amazon.com, amazon.ca or amazon.uk and help support stnicholascenter.org; thank you.
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