Every wonder how Santa Claus became associated with Christmas? Confused by the references to St. Nicholas, Belsnickel and Woodland Santa? Here's a short history of the many identities associated with the jolly old elf.
It all began with St. Nick
Father Christmas for Grown Ups
Father Christmas, a variation on Saint Nicholas, was associated with adult revelry. The Victorian era brought a return to the idea of St. Nick as a gift giver whose purpose was to delight small children.
Along came Belsnickel
Santa Claus, the jovial elf
Modern-day Santa Claus evolved from the re-imagining of Saint Nicholas by Washington Irving at the turn of the nineteenth century. There was a tug-of-war in the religious community, as the Puritans disapproved of pagan holidays. Literary work re-imagined Santa Claus as a gift-giving jovial elf (think Night Before Christmas, famously illustrated by Florence Sarah Winship). That imagining has persisted in our culture to this day, where Santa is in charge of toy-making elves and flying reindeer.
Woodland Santa is magical, too
Woodland Santa, portrayed as a friend to animals, is another variation of Saint Nicholas. He may be dressed in brown or white robes, sometimes fur lined, but often less elegant than the ermine and red velvet garb of his counterpart. He’s frequently shown with birds perched on his arms or head and forest friends at his feet.
Which Santa do you believe in?
No matter which Santa figure you feel the most affinity for, you'll find a figure or ornament for your collection in the Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay. And have a very Merry Christmas, for one and for all!
Here's another run at the topic of what kinds of treasures catch my eye at estate sales. Personally, I find it very rewarding to discover objects that have special worth to collectors or simply still have purpose. I admire the craftsmanship of earlier generations and believe there's great value in preserving and re-homing pieces of history that might otherwise be discarded.
Cotton, linen, silk or taffeta—these fabrics never go out of style. I love to rescue pretty tablecloths, towels and bedding. Intricate laces and needlepoint artistry are always coveted and frequently go overlooked at crowded sales. Recently I happened upon a generous stock of unused Royal Society stamped linen, a true treasure. I look for items in pristine condition, but also rescue linens that will rebound with a good soak.
Christmas collectibles and decorations top my list, followed by Halloween and Easter. There are many classic figures and ornaments that are consistently in demand, but I'm not opposed to kitsch either. Quirky items have an appeal of their own. At Christmas time, flocked bottle brush and ceramic trees, Fontanini cherubs and nativity figures, Mercury glass bulbs and pieced felt and wool needlepoint stockings are always desirable. Halloween paper goods, animated objects and the occasional costume are quality finds. And for Easter, old-time paper mache or painted eggs and cute rabbits in all shapes and sizes are fun to rescue.
It's impressive to see how earlier generations valued design and created amazingly attractive paper goods. Embossed and gilt decorated cards were the norm in the early 1900s, when folks relied on the post to stay in touch with friends and relatives near and far. As I wrote about in an earlier post on vintage Valentines, intricate die cuts and tissue paper honeycombs were common but added appealing dimension and delight. Pieces that have survived the intervening decades relatively intact can fetch a good price from collectors.
What are you looking for from a vintage vendor? Let us know what sets your heart a-flutter and we'll do our best to help you locate the items on your wishlist.
Learn about our recent discoveries and what captures our imagination in this blog, then peruse the treasures in our Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay.
Brought to you by...
... Susan Buie, writer by day, vintage curator and co-proprietor of the Cool Vintage Finds Store on eBay in all the moments in between.