Rescuing St. Nicholas!
In the Czech Republic
During the Communist years, traditional Czech gift-givers, Mikuláše—St. Nicholas, who comes on December 6, and the Christ Child, coming on Christmas, were suppressed in favor of Grandfather Frost. Now it seemed as if Santa Claus was simply taking over, crowding out these traditional Czech customs. It was happening especially with commercial activity and advertisements. So, in 2008 the Creative Copywriters Club, a marketing organization, began the AntiSanta project, “Save the Baby Jesus.”
The goal is to uphold traditional Czech traditions and customs. Santa Claus was showing up more and more everywhere in shops, as chocolate figures and on Advent calendars, as well as in ads. The project believes Santa is a marketing figure, whereas, the others are rooted in history and religion. Merchants have seemed to confuse the two figures of Mikuláše and Santa.
The group has sponsored a variety of creative projects. One year Santas were temporarily held in the Prague Zoo. It was reported that they were pests and could not be allowed to roam freely. The zoo attendants carefully studied their habits and stockpiled supplies of fries, burgers and colas, along with cookies and milk, to properly care for the Santas. The Santas were to be crated and returned to their homeland on the 23rd of December, before Christmas Eve.
In 2008 Children and Youth Astra Zlin held a school art contest, “Nicholas or Santa Claus?” Awards were given at the local shopping center and the best entries exhibited at the Museum of Southeast Moravia in Zlin.
Shoppers are encouraged, when encountering Santa in shops or advertisements, to send a photo to AntiSanta and a note like this to the merchant:
A lot of us dislike the senseless use of Santa Claus in the Czech environment. We do not have to copy everything after all, we already have a beautiful Christmas tradition. In the Czech Republic presents definitely come from Baby Jesus.
Look at antisanta.cz—it was begun by a few enthusiasts, who started an avalanche and now it is a whole movement. And all those people are your potential customers … .
- “Art compeition “Nicholas or Santa Claus?” 9zzlin.cz, December 2008.
- “Mikuláš nebo Santa Claus? U ceských prodejcû vítezí komercní Santa” (Nicholas or Santa Claus? Santa wins with Czech commercial vendors, NovinyVM, December 4, 2013.
- Zdechovský, Tomáš, “Zachranme svatého Mikuláše, zachranme detem Jezíška!” (Save St. Nicholoas, save Baby Jesus), ChrisTnet, December 5, 2013.