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[Opinion] The Missing Rudolph

Posted December. 19, 2004 22:40,   


Christmas, a term derived from “Christ” and “Mass,” is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. Though the Bible does not record the exact year or date of Christ’s birth, some purport that in the latter half of the Fourth Century, a Roman bishop chose the day of the winter solstice, a pagan holiday, to celebrate Christianity’s victory over the pagans.

The Christmas tree originates from the tree worshipping tradition, as in the ancient Egyptian branch decorations and the Roman ornaments that attach olive branches to candlesticks. Fir trees were first used in the Eighth century when the missionary Odin, with the intention of putting an end to the barbaric tradition of sacrificing humans on oak trees, pointed to a nearby fir tree and proclaimed, “Carry these branches back to your houses and celebrate the birth of baby Jesus.”

The name Santa Claus comes from St. Nicolas, who was born in AD 279 in Asia Minor. The tale of Santa Claus gained prominence as the saint’s philanthropic work became known around the world, first through the name “Sinterklaas” by American inhabitants of Dutch origin, who later changed it to the more familiar name of Santa Claus. Santa’s red outfit comes from a 1931 advertisement by the Coca Cola Company. Fearing the annual loss in sales during the winter, the company combined Santa’s features with Coca Cola’s distinctive red logo, thus creating the image of today’s Santa.

I once happened to watch a TV ad on The Missing Rudolph. Perhaps Rudolph has been slacking off (“My sleigh is way too heavy!”). Rudolph is also a product of the modern advertisement. In 1939, Robert May, an employee at the advertising department of Chicago’s Montgomery Wards, devised the character of Rudolph for Christmas ads. Rumors abounded as to the reason why Rudolph’s nose was so red, ranging from explanations such as alcoholism, the cold, and even ticks. How fast should the sleigh be to deliver the presents to children all around the world in a single evening? And what about its size? It’s a wonder Santa Claus hasn’t been sued yet for animal abuse.

This year’s economic downturn has led to projections of a blue Christmas. Despite this gloomy forecast, I hope that at least our hearts may be filled with joy. Merry Christmas!

Kim Mi-jin, Guest editorial writer, novelist, usedream@yahoo.com