Goody, Goody! Forest Park’s International Santa Collection

The Forest Park Branch’s International Santa Claus collection is on display for the holidays.  The scene is at Santa’s home in the North Pole where the gift givers gather for a little pre-Christmas Eve party. (This is the final time we’ll use this diorama; next year we’ll have a new setting for the collection.)

We have no new figurines in our collection this year, but we learned something interesting about Mrs. Santa Claus.

Mrs. Santa Claus, USA

Mrs. Santa Claus, USA

Of all the gift givers of different cultures, not one has a wife except for Santa Claus of the United States.  Even he, who is descended from the Dutch Sinterklaas, didn’t have a spouse until 1889.

That year, poet Katherine Lee Bates wrote a poem Goody Santa Claus (Goody is short for goodwife), where Mrs. Claus persuades her reluctant husband to let her come along on his Christmas Eve delivery run, and proves that she is more than just a housewife!  (A few years later, Bates wrote the first draft of America the Beautiful.)

Mrs. Santa is generally portrayed as the patient, busy lady who manages the home, looks after the reindeer and the elves and makes sure that the Mr. gets his rest.  Film and television, however, occasionally show her not only as a good household manager, but as an intelligent, proactive woman, just like in the poem.  In the musical Mrs. Santa Claus, she goes to New York City and becomes an activist for women’s rights and child labor laws!

We found this bit of information while updating our collection book.  We’ve included information about each Santa’s country of origin, and Christmas customs of a few of the countries.  The collection will be on display through the month of December.  Please stop by and have a look!

 *****

 A Wikipedia article on Mrs. Claus, though brief, lists her portrayal in movies and television

The web has a wealth of Santa Claus history and information.  Enter the terms “Santa Claus” and “history” in your favorite search engine.

See photos of our International Santa collection from the CCLS photostream; then visit the CultureGrams database, accessible through the CCLS website, to read about the different countries of origin (library card required)

Read the Christmas poems of Katherine Lee Bates

Track Santa’s delivery run on Christmas Eve on Norad Tracks Santa

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Published in: on December 4, 2008 at 10:35 pm  Leave a Comment  

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