Monday, April 5, 2010

Duncan Royale History Of Classic Entertainers: Clowns And Entertainers

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Duncan Royale Santa Series 3 Collection

Duncan Royale Hoteiosho - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

The celebration of Christmas in Japan dates back only about a century. This is not surprising, since the Christian population is less than one percent; yet in the past thirty-five years, the Christmas festivities have grown to enormous proportions.

The observance is mainly commercial and closely tied to the American urban Christmas. Carols are sung in Japanese, Christmas trees are decorated with lights, turkeys are fattened, and mistletoe and holly are hung.

The only difference is in the gift bringer. Instead of adopting the American Santa Claus, the Japanese looked into their own tradition to find someone with similar characteristics. This was Hotei or Hoteiosho, an old Japanese god. He was originally one of the seven gods of good fortune. An amiable, serene and contented deity, he is often represented as a Buddhist priest with large ear-lobes. His distinguishing feature is a huge stomach believed to be a symbol of his large soul.

He is always depicted as joyously laughing, whether alone or surrounded by children. He holds a fan in one hand and carries on his back the linen bag (hotel) from which he derives his name. He carries the ‘Precious Things’ in the bag, the gifts and toys which he gives to good children. He doesn ‘t need a helper to check on the children’s behavior because they’re told that he has eyes in the back of his head. He has been popularized in Europe under the name of Pusa. It’s no wonder that the children of Japan recognize in him the same characteristics as Santa Claus.

Duncan Royale Druid - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

In ancient Britain the Druids used to celebrate the winter solstice by keeping the Festival of Nolagh. They observed this season in their great ringed temples at Stonehenge and Avebury. Many of our Christmas customs such as the Yule log, and the use of mistletoe and holly originated there. One tree that was especially sacred to the Druids was the mighty oak. The Druids believed that whenever an oak was struck by lightning, it was really one of the gods coming down to earth. And so during their winter festivals, they decorated oak trees with apples and burning candles as a way of offering thanks to the gods who gave them sunlight and food.

Another important symbol for the Druids was the Yule log. in a special rite, they blessed, then lit the Yule log by using magic crystals and sunlight. It was kept burning for the entire Festival of Nolagh and afterwards a brand from the old log was saved to rekindle the fire for the new one the following year.

During the winter solstice, they killed a boar and offered its head to the goddess Freya, as a gift. The custom of the boar’s head procession continued into Medieval times and even survives today at some English universities. Wren hunting after Christmas, which still takes place in some parts of Ireland and Wales, began with the Druids, who hunted them for use in telling the future. The song of the wren was used in prophecy and its feathers were used in magic potions.

Among plants that were sacred to the Druids were mistletoe and holly. Mistletoe it seff is a parasitic plant which is found high in the branches of certain oak trees. To harvest it, the Arch Druid had to reach up and remove it with a golden sickle, careful to make sure that it didn’t touch the ground and lose its magic properties. They believed that the plant could cure illness, produce fertility and help to make peace with one’s enemies. A kiss beneath the mistletoe symbolized the end of grievances.

The holly plant was believed to have special magical powers to ward off witches and other evil spirits. The druids usually wore a sprig of holly on their robes for protection. We see this same image today with Santa Claus wearing a sprig of holly in his hat.

The mid-winter festival of Nolagh continued until the end of the sixth century A.D. At that time St. Augustine arrived in England and began converting the people to Christianity. Rather than stamping out the many pagan customs, the Church simply took many of them over, adapting them and applying new meanings. They were ultimately successful in regrouping the customs of the Nolagh Festival around the Mass of Christ, which in England was called “Christes Masses”, the mass or church festival of Christmas.

Duncan Royale Knickerbocker - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

One of the most important developments in the history of the American Santa was the publication of a work in 1809 entitled ‘A History of New. York From The Beginning Of The World To The End Of The Dutch Dynasty’. It was supposedly written by a Diedrich Knickerbocker. But actually this was the pen name used by the American author, Washington frying, who wrote such favorites as ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and ‘The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’.

In this work Irving not only dealt in a humorous way about the Dutch in New York, or New Amsterdam as it was then called, but he also dealt with their love of St. Nicholas. However, Irving made a dramatic departure in his physical description of the saint. . . he changed the bishop’s robes to more traditional Flemish attire. And instead of the bishop’s hat or miter, there was a wide brimmed hat, hose and a long Dutch clay pipe. St. Nicholas had been transformed from a bishop into a Dutch gentleman.

At this time too, the Old Dutch name for St. Nicholas, ‘Sint Niklass’, popularly became ‘Sin tirklaas’, and then ‘Sante Klaas’.

Irving wrote about Santa Klaas flying about with a wagon and horse over the rooftops of New Amsterdam with his basket of toys “now and then drawing forth magnificent presents from his breeches pockets and dropping them down the chimneys of his favorites”.

Influenced by this new ‘Knickerbocker’ Santa, Dr. Clement Clarke Moore wrote his immortal poem ‘A Visit From St. Nicholas’ in 1822. But it wasn’t until 1848 that the poem was published in book form. Along with the poem, the book contained seven wood engravings by the artist T. C. Boyd, the very first representation of this new St. Nick. But the sketches that Boyd drew showed less bulk and less cheer than the elf in the poem. Actually his drawings were closer to the original ‘Knickerbocker’ Santa that Irving had written about thirty-nine years earlier. But this provided a gradual transition to the later drawings of Thomas Nast who put the finishing touches on the merry old soul we know today.

Duncan Royale Judah Maccabee - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

Most cultures have had some kind of celebration of light during the winter solstice. Although not directly connected to the solstice, the Jews celebrate the feast of Hanukkah, or Chanukka the Festival of Lights. It commemorates the great victory of the Maccabees under the leadership of Judah Macca bee over the forces of Antiochus Epiphanes who, in 168 B.C., tried to destroy the Jewish faith. After years of fierce fighting, Judah Maccabee was finally able to lead his troops into Jerusalem in victory. There, the Jews began the work of purifying and rededicating the Temple, making it once again a worthy house for the worship of God.

It is told that when Judah’s men were cleaning out the temple, they found just a single jar of holy oil ... only enough to keep the Eternal Light before the Holy of Holies burning for one day. Miraculously, this one jar burned for eight days and nights. As a remembrance of this joyous occasion, every year in Jewish Home Pages a menorah (candelabrum) is lit, consisting of eight candles (together with an additional ‘servant candle’ used to light the rest) which are kindled on each night of the festival, one candle being lit on the first night, two on the second, and so on. It has also become a time for the giving of small gifts, very often distributed on each of the eight nights. Although not strictly a gift-giver, Judah Maccabee was the instrument for bringing the gift of freedom and light to the Jews. His victory ensured that the values of Judaism, which are also the religious foundation upon which Christianity was later established, would continue to shape and influence the course of civilization. This would be remembered yearly on the feast of hanukkah celebrated on the twenty-fifth of Kislev, the Jewish month which corresponds to the month of December.

Later the Christian Church would celebrate its own Festival of Lights on December 25, honoring another who would also be an instrument for bringing the gift of freedom and light to the world.

Duncan Royale Saturnalia King - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

The ancient Romans had a winter solstice celebration called the Saturnalia, which lasted from December 17 to 24. This was followed by the Festival of Kalends on January 1.

The Saturnalia took its name from Saturn, who was the Roman god of agriculture. His ancient reign was considered a golden age for the Romans. At that time there was no crime or punishment, no laws or judges, and no need for farming. But this Golden Age did not last. Eventually the old god was deposed, but each year at the winter solstice the people relived his happy reign. During the Saturnalia no war was declared, no battles were fought, and nobody was sent to prison or otherwise punished. Also schools, law courts and markets were closed.

A Saturnalia King was chosen by lot to preside over the eight day festival and to represent the old god. His word was law and whatever nonsensical request he made was granted. Social rank was turned upside down so that slaves became masters and masters became slaves. Centuries later, this aspect of the Saturnalia would turn up again in the person of the Lord of Misrule.

Many of our modern Christmas customs evolved from the Saturnalia. For example, the Romans decorated their houses and temples with various evergreens such as laurel, holly and ivy; wreaths were hung and trees were decorated with small trinkets.

One important part of the festival was the exchange of gifts. They were simple at first, such as horey, fruits, cakes, coins or clay dolls, but they slowly grew more elaborate. The Greek writer Libanius wrote of the season. “The impulse to spend seizes everyone.” One of the most important presents that people exchanged were candles, symbols of the new-born sun. Elaborate processions with singing took place, using these candles.

Lavish holiday banquets featured such delicacies as peacock eggs in pepper sauce and people greeted each other with shouts of ‘Bona Saturnalia’, the equivalent of our ‘Merry Christmas’. It was a joyous time of good will, peace and sharing.

Early Christians began adapting these old customs and infusing them with new meaning. Even the old god Saturn who came bearing gifts of food and wine was transformed into the new Christian gift giver of St. Nicholas. Our present day Santa Claus is descended from the old god Saturn.

Duncan Royale St. Basil - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

In Greece, St. Basil’s Day, or New years Day, is the time for exchanging gifts. St. Basil is considered the gift bringer and is highly honored by the Greeks. Born in the town of Caesarea in Asia Minor in 329 A.D; he was a contemporary of St. Nicholas of Myra, although the two never met.

His family was quite wealthy and quite large. St. Basil had four brothers and five sisters. They were also a very religious family. Of the ten children, four were eventually canonized as saints, as were the father, mother and two grandmothers. They were quite a remarkable family.

As a young man, St. Basil was well educated by tutors. At sixteen he was sent to Athens in Greece to complete his education, since Athens was the real center of learning at that time. St. Basil was a good student and often after a hard day of study, he liked to relax by taking a walk and singing hymns as he went along. One day he came across some boys who made fun of him because he was singing hymns in praise of God. They wanted to pick a fight with him, when suddenly the staff he was holding burst into bloom. Frightened and bewildered, the boys left him alone. The staff had bloomed into the Christmas Rose and the people of Greece remember this event every year on St. Basil’s feast day.

St. Basil returned to Caesarea where he became a monk. Eventually a community of monks grew up around him. They founded orphanages and schools and the monks became good teachers to the young.

After many years, St. Basil became Bishop of Caesarea and was a true shepherd to his flock. He established institutions for the sick and the needy, and for strangers and pilgrims. He provided training for unskilled workers and taught the rich to use their generosity to help the poor. St. Basil died, worn out by work, ill-health and the austerities of life, in 379 A.D., on January 1, when he was only 49 years old. The people of Greece never forgot him and his wonderful generosity and every year they commemorate his coming to Athens on a ship. In Athens itself, models of ships are carried around by carolers who make a collection of money in them for the poor.

Children receive gifts from St. Basil on his feast day and traditional ‘Basil’ cakes are eaten to honor this patron saint of Greece.

Duncan Royale Santa Series 2 Collection

Duncan Royale The Pixie - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

The little pixies dressed in green with pointed hats and shoes originated in Ireland and have found their way into the American Christmas scene as Santa’s helpers, known as elves.

Stories and legends of pixies have been told for centuries. Some pixies were good and helpful; others bad and destructive, but most of all they were mischief makers. ft was said the Pixie tangled the hair of the horse’s mane so that it could not be combed; he also caused milk to sour, and hid the master’s hat. They were always busy.

Each country had its own type of pixies with varying characteristics. The English Pixies were small and handsome in their green clothes. At night they were said to be dancing fairy rings to the music of crickets and grasshoppers.

The German Pixies were tiny with long gray beards who loved clean Home Pages and were known to help the servants in house holds do their chores.

Pixies were never seen doing any of these things because they could disappear in the wink of an eye. That is why children could never catch them when they left gifts at Christmas time. Many people held superstitious beliefs about the Pixie’s power and did not want to annoy them.

As Christian customs became more widespread, the character of the Pixie changed, instead of staying out of sight they began To do things openly and took on the new role of gift bringers at Christmas, During Victorian times illustrators gave them an angelic appearance and showed them helping Christkindt.

In the mid-nineteenth century, C. C. Moore’s poem "A Visit From St. Nicholas” promoted the image of Santa Claus we see today. Undoubtedly his little elves keep him informed on “who’s naughty and who’s nice” as they busily make toys in the North Pole workshop. How else could Santa Claus have all those toys ready each Christmas?

Duncan Royale Sir Christmas - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

There are many facets of folklore evident in telling the story of Sir Christmas. He was essentially an English figure whose lineage can be traced through years of changes in Christmas legends and celebrations back to early pre - Christian times.

In early times he was not a Christian religious figure, such as St. Nicholas, but he symbolized the arrival of the secular pleasures associated with the Christmas season.

The Protestant Reformation raised several problems for St. Nicholas, patron saint of Christmas. In 1647 it became improper to celebrate anything having to do with Catholic saints and observances of Christmas festivities were forbidden by government order. This edict was revoked in 1660 and Christmas was restored

as a celebration for the common people; however, royalty’s excesses were to be curtailed.

At this time, Sir Christmas became Christianized and in the process picked up many refinement. He changed his garb to meet the changing styles of clothing.

His task was not to bring gifts, but to visit Home Pages of rich and poor alike, and to sit awhile by the hearth. His visits were always welcome.

Duncan Royale Frau Holda - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

Not all Christmas time giftbringers were men or old women. The Germans have the gentle, beautiful goddess Frau Holda who descended to earth in midwinter with her gifts of good fortune and health.

Frau Holda visits the villages at Christmas time in a carriage full of presents. When the villagers hear her coming, they come out of their Home Pages to pay respects to this beautiful stately lady, dressed in white, her long golden hair falling on her white goose down cape.

She often rewards the kind people by shaking her feather cape and the feathers that fall turn to gold coins at their feet.

On one occasion it is told, she broke the shaft on her carriage going over rough ground. A local villager came to her rescue. He whittled an old piece of wood to match the broken shaft. He had worked all night in the barn and by dawn the carriage was repaired. After thanking the man, Frau Holda was on her way. When the man returned to his barn where he had worked the night before; instead of chips of wood on the floor, there lay a pile of gold coins.

Frau Holda’s feather cape was not an ordinary cloak. It was made of down ~ 1 feathers from her flock of white geese. When cold weather began she would drive her white geese through the villages where their feathers spread a mantle of white over tender crops to keep them warm against the early frost.

Today when the first soft snow of winter falls in the mountain area of Germany, the people say that Frau Holda is shaking her feather bed.

Duncan Royale Alsace Angel - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

In the sixteenth century the custom of the German Christchild as gift bringer became widely adopted in Europe. It started in Alsace, a border province, and moved into France.

In Alsace the gift bringer was called le petit Jesus and was depicted in various forms, induding a small boy child in a garland trimmed cart drawn by a lamb. The Cart was laden with gifts to be given to good children. Eventually the figure of the Christchild was replaced by child angels.

Probably one practice responsible for the change to child angels was a result of the enactment of a medieval mystery play of the Nativity done at the Rouen Cathedral as far back as the twelfth century. The parts were sung as a dialogue between the priests and a choir of young boys. A special choir boy dressed as an angel was chosen to sing the solo responses from the bakony.

Except for the choir angels, young children did not attend the midnight mass. They went to bed early after placing their shoes by the fireside in anticipation of gifts from le petit Jesus. Off to bed they went to dream of the miracle of Christmas.

When most of Europe was adopting the American Santa Claus as their Christmas gift giver, the French illustrators began to elaborate on the angel theme. In advertisements and story books, it was a common sight to see the French Angel putting presents down the chimney rather than accept the American Santa.

Duncan Royale The Bavarian Santa - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

Imagine the consternation of the followers of Martin Luther when he determined in the sixteenth century that St. Nicholas was robbing Christmas of its true meaning. Christmas, he told them, was the time to honor Christ.

The followers of his doctrine lost little time in replacing the Catholic saint with their own gift giver, Christkindt.

Christkindt was an angelic figure without gender who would bring gifts and adorn the tree on Christmas Eve. Pictured as a radiant figure in flowing white with tiny golden wings, Christkindt would enter the Home Page through a door or win - dow left open for the visit.

Customs varied from region to region and in some Christkindt was said to come in secret during the night; and in others early in the evening to trim the tree. Gifts of gingerbread and other sweets were left for the children.

As time went on, the influence of St. Nicholas reappeared, not as a bishop in his priestly robes, but in a cloak wrapped around his body to shield against the cold. It was he who accompanied Christkindt on his rounds because, as mothers told their children, the Angel was too young to travel alone.

Together the holy pair would visit each Home Page and test the children on their prayers and behavior; then leaving their gifts would continue on their way.

Duncan Royale Babouska of Russia - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

Babouska was the most popular gift giver in Russia when Christmas was an acceptable festivity in that country. She was the “grandmotherly” type traveling with her basket of food and toys. In warm garb with her scarf over her head, she braved the cold of the Russian winter to make her rounds.

Legends relay interesting stories about Babouska beginning with a visit of the Wisemen from the East. When they inquired the way to Bethlehem she purposely misdirected them. Another story tells she refused the Holy Family shelter on the way to Egypt.

The most popular tale tells the first wise man went to Babouska’s place and asked for food and shelter. She was very hospitable; fed him and gave him a place to sleep. In leaving he invited her to travel with him to the Christchild She declined, but said she would come as soon as her house was cleaned and in order. The second and third wise man, in turn, also stopped for food and lodging and each time she declined with the same excuse.

Finally, when Babouska’s house was immaculate, she packed a basket with toys for the baby king and food for her journey. Alas, the wisemen had gone far ahead and she could not find the way.

It is told she returns each year with her basket of gifts and food which she shares with those she meets in her search for the Christ Child.

Duncan Royale Befana - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

Befana, is a legendary female gift giver known to Italian children for almost two thousand years. She was active at Christmas time and made her visit on the Twelfth Night or Epiphany.

The story is told that Befana, a very old and decrepit woman, refused to interrupt her household duties long enough to accept the invitation of the Magi to accompany them on their journey to find the Christchild.

It seems the Magi needed a guide in their search and asked Befana to help them find the way; but she refused to leave her warm and immaculate house of which she w&s very proud.

However, after the Magi had left, Befana had a change of heart and at dawn went in search of the Wisemen. She had prepared a basket of food for the journey and added toys and gifts for the Christ Child. Search and inquire as she might she was unable to find the Wisemen; but she distributed her gifts along the way.

As years passed the story grew and Befana now resembles a witch with a broom to fly and visit Home Pages on Epiphany. In addition to her basket of goodies she also carried a cane and a bell. The cane was to help her on the way and the bell was to warn the children of her coming. Children were warned to be good so that she would leave them gifts and not switches. When the bell rang, the children were hurried off to bed to “be asleep before Befana comes.”

In Italy, Epiphany is also called Befana Day. It is a day of feasting and celebration as well as gift giving and fairs are held in Rome and rural areas in honor of Befana Day.

Duncan Royale St. Lucia - 12 Inch- AVAILABLE

Centuries before the birth of Christ, people in the northern European countries lighted torches, bonfires, and oil lamps during the winter solstice rites the last days of December. it was the celebration of more hours of light and sunshine given to them by their gods after overlong darkened nights.

As time passed and Christianity reached the northern peoples, Sweden adopted St. Lucia as their Lady of Light. in Sweden today. St. Lucia ~s day is observed on December thirteenth. It is a special day for children. St. Lucia was a young girl put to death in 304 A. D. for professing Christianity. She is honored in Sweden because legend tells she brought food their country needed to feed the children during a terrible famine. When she appeared her face was bathed in light from a candle-lit wreath placed on her head and her whole being seemed aglow with an inner light.

St. Lucla’s Day is now a family celebration where the oldest daughter dresses early, places a candle-lit wreath on her head and wakens the members of her family. She knocks on the door of her parents bedroom first and then

goes room to room. While the occupants are still in bed, she serves them coffee and Lucia buns known as Lussekatter.

This practice, since medieval times, officially marks the beginning of Christmas activities.

Duncan Royale The Magi - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

An aura of mystery surrounded the Wisemen (or Magi as they were called) when they appeared in Bethlehem following the birth of Jesus. It was they who had traveled far, following a brilliant star in the East that came to stop over the manger. The Magi were learned men believed to have come from Persia. They were astrologers and interpreters of dreams and omens. Their reputation as men of learning was well known by the Greeks and Romans.

No scene of the Nativity is complete without the Magi, although they did not reach Bethlehem until twelve days after the birth of Christ, the day now known as Epiphany. According to Christian doctrine, on that day it was made known to the Magi that the baby born in the manger was sent by God.

In the mid-twelfth century, an important event brought the Magi from a verse in the Bible to a prominent position in Christian practice. Three entombed bodies were found in the Basilica of Milan, Italy. They were reputed to be those of the Magi. After the finding of the tombs, a special service for the celebration of Epiphsny became more popular and spread from Belgium, where it originated. into France, Spain and the rest of Europe.

Spain adopted the feast of the Magi in a grand way. The story of the three Magi was written in their version saying the Magi traveled through Spain on the way to Bethlehem. Promises of gifts from the Magi promoted good behavior in the children.

Santa Claus has reached into Christmas celebrations all over the world, but 1 most children in Spain still write their letters to the Magi.

Duncan Royale Mongolian Asian Santa - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

The Mongols were wandering herdsmen of Central Asia. They traveled with their herds of sheep, goats, horses, camels and cattle moving them from season to season seeking fresh pastures.

In the early 1200’s under the leadership of Genghis Khan, the Mon go! herdsmen were forged into a war-like horde. They became fearful of losing their grazing land to the ever expanding Chinese. Genghis so inspired his followers that they became victors over many lands.

The Great Wall of China, built as a barrier to warring tribes, was no deterrent to the onslaught of the vast strength of the Mongols. Under the rule of Genghis Khan Mongolia extended from the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea.

Even though they were warriors and nomads their year end celebration of Herdsmen’s Day was a day of feasting and celebrating. The men exhibited their skill in horsemanship and the women dressed in their best adding silver and trinkets to their headdresses. Gifts of trinkets and products of the time were exchanged within the family much like our exchanges today.

Orientals (those touched by the Mongols) may have been influenced by these year-end celebrations. One Chinese God, Tsai Sen Yeh appears at the end of the year and gives money gifts to the children. He carries the traditional sack on his back and is a favorite of the children as he makes his rounds. It is believed Marco Polo, a close friend of Genghis Khan, may have introduced Christian ideals and customs while he was living in China.

Duncan Royale Lord of Misrule - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

The Lord of Misrule was the master of revelry during the feast of Twelfth Night, the last day of Christmas festivities in merry England. He also had a place in the court on other celebrations. Hi role was two-fold. In the court of medieval England he was appointed by the king to play the part of a somewhat unruly master of ceremonies of a lively celebration.

The Lord of Misrule was given a very real power in that, all, even the king had to submit to his whims during his reign. The wise Lord of Misrule did not overstep the bounds of his position if he wished to retain the king’s favor. But within those bounds he was king for a day.

The most familiar role the Lord of Misrule played was that of jester. Dressed in his gaudy and elaborate theatrical clothing he held court. He kept his subjects entertained with riddles, pranks and pantomimes. His spontaneous outbursts and lively antics kept his royal audience amused.

Among the commoners, the Lord of Misrule presided over less orderly practices in the streets and sometimes took control of a whole village.

The Lord of Misrule had counterparts in pagan practices in other countries. The Romans gave one official absolute power over feasting and merry-making and early Babylonians honored their goddess by placing a household servant in the role of master during a five day celebration.

Duncan Royale Odin - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

Odin in Norse mythology was the chief god of Northern Europe and father of the god Thor. He was the god of the early Vikings whose pirate bands attacked and pillaged coastal settlements of northern and western Europe from the eighth through the tenth century.

Many years before Christ, the norsemen believed Odin rode through the world at midwinter distributing rewards or punishment to his earthly subjects. At that time of year the Vikings were unable to go to sea so they congregated in great halls to talk of their exploits and to honor their gods in thanks for a good year. In true Viking fashion, the celebration was a rowdy drinking occasion.

The German Odin was depicted in rough skins, the garb of the early Vikings, going about on Christmas Eve rewarding good children with fruit and nuts.

Odin’s son Thor was revered during a celebration known as Mothernite. In mid-December the return of the sun to the northern regions was a time of great joy and praise was given to the gods. Thor usually appeared in a chariot in the sky, perhaps a forerunner of Santa in a sleigh. The influence of these two deities persisted throughout northern Europe and is reflected in our present calendar. Oden was changed to Woden and his sacred day Woden’s Day became Wednesday. In like manner, Thor’s sacred day became our present Thursday.

When the northern races invaded Britain, they brought their gods with them. The early Christian church found it easier to adapt than forbid old beliefs and as a result pagan cultures were allowed to mix with Christian Christmas. Festivals of the heathen gods such as Odin were modified to Christian practice. At Christmas time the pagans were slow to change and Christ and Odin were honored equally for at least 200 years after the cultures joined.

Duncan Royale Santa Series 1 Collection

Duncan Royale The Nast Santa Claus - 9 Inches - AVAILABLE

When Clement Clarke Moore wrote his immortal poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which described Santa Claus in such a vivid way and gave lively names to his reindeer, he inspired the famous Harper’s Weekly cartoonist, Thomas Nast.

Until Nast picked up his pen, America’s images of Santa Claus were many. No one characterization really stuck to him. Some thought of him as a man in buckskin, a throwback to the pioneer days. Others saw him as the mitred bishop from the Old World. Still others saw him as a sprightly gent in Dutch garments, chewing on a long pipe.

Nast’s pen-and-ink drawings gave Santa the universal image he enjoys today. . the plump. comfortable, loveable gent with the bag of toys on his back. He was still a bit of an elf, as the poem might suggest, but he soon would grow in size with the help from Madison Avenue.

The Harper’s Weekly drawings featured in the 1860s included a cover picture of Santa dressed in Stars and Stripes, presenting gifts to the Union soldiers at camp. Another had him jumping from sleigh to chimney with a pipe clenched in his teeth. Often, his drawings included children nestled snugly in their beds as Santa made his rounds.

Abraham Lincoln was president at the time and asked Nast to create a Santa image for America.

Duncan Royale Civil War Santa - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

As war raged between the states in the 1860s, one of the few concepts the North and the South probably agreed upon was the concept of Santa Claus.

To both sides, Santa Claus was second only to baby Jesus, the personification of Christmas itself, as a means of expressing the spirit of the holiday season. He was as popular in the North as General Grant and as popular in the South as General Lee.

Neither side was above using the jolly old elf as propaganda material. In fact, the Harpers Weekly drawings by Thomas Nast were published during this era. Many of these drawings had a pro-Union flavor, portraying Santa Claus as the benefactor of the Union soldier. To this end, even President Lincoln made the observation that Nast, through his use of the Santa character had become the North ‘s “best recruiting sergeant”.

Since the South was without the publishing resources of the North, the Santa image was kept alive primarily through tradition. One can only speculate whether the South could have mounted the manpower and the morale to win if Santa had worn Rebel gray.

Duncan Royale American Pioneer Santa - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

From the day Columbus arrived in the West Indies, St. Nicholas had been a factor in the New World. As luck would have it, Columbus arrived on St. Nicholas Day of 1492 A.D. and named his new found port “St. Nicholas"

When the settlers arrived it was not long before the youngsters insisted that there be a yearly visit from St. Nicholas in this new land just as in the Old World.

The early American description of Santa Claus can be found in the writings of author-humorist Washington Irving. He pointed out in 1809 that the image St. Nicholas had in America was not that of a robed Bishop, but rather a Dutch-attired gentleman with a long pipe and a broad-brimmed hat.

Thirteen years later came the timeless poem by Clement C. Moore entitled “A Visit from St. Nicholas” which carried the classic description of Santa Claus.

Meanwhile, as many new Americans were moving westward, some descriptions of Santa carried a contemporary look. . . a buckskin dad pioneer who could pass for an elderly Daniel Boone.

Duncan Royale The Soda Pop Santa - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

An added touch to the image of Santa Claus was created in the 1920s, during prohibition.

This novelty came, not from religion or from poetic inspiration, but from the world of advertising.

The advancement of color reproduction allowed Santa to step from the old black and white into the brilliant world of color. Now his red suit could really shine and his rosy cheeks could really glow. During the Christmas season his image was full blown on billboards across the nation.

The famous soft drink ad created by Haddon Sun dblom not only added color but size. Gone, but not, entirely forgotten was the “jolly old elf” of yesterday. He now has larger proportions to match the baritone of his “HO HO HO”.

Duncan Royale Kris Kringle - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

The Dutch, who had long held the notion that St. Nicholas and his devilish slave, Black Peter, bounded from house to house rewarding good children and punishing naughty ones, gradually adopted what they believed to be a more religious view.

The Dutch-German protestant reform movement brought with it the idea that the Christchild should be the standard bearer for Christmas. The German word for Christchild, “Christkindl” eventually became Kris Kringle.

The transformation from Christkindl to Kris Kringle did not take many generations, especially with intermarriage between the Pennsylvania Dutch and the English settlers in the New World. Thus, despite the intentions of the Protestant reform movement, the original meaning of the word has faded. Once thought to be the Christchild’s chief helper, the image of Kris Kringle has reverted back to an image of St. Nicholas.

Kris Kringle is still popular as the Santa Claus of some Pennsylvania Dutch Home Pages today. He carries a tiny Christmas tree and enters the house through a window left open. When he has finished decorating the tree and placing 1 the presents, he rings a bell allowinq the household to know of his departure.

Duncan Royale Wassailing - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

“Wassailing” is an old English custom similar to proposing a toast to one’s health. That comparison sounds simple, however the custom of Wassailing is much more elaborate than a mere, “Here’s to your good health “.

The word is derived from the Anglo-Saxon “wes-ha ‘1” to be whole. English carolers would carry a large bowl from house to house, hoping their neighbors would fill it with drink. As time passed, the drink associated with the wassail bowl would be hot, spiced ale with toasted apples floating on the surface. Another name for this delicious toddy was “lambs wool”.

Although this custom began in the pre-Christian era, the Church passively adopted it as a means of spreading Christmas good will. By not objecting to the pagan winter custom, the Church effectively gave its blessing and Wassailing became a Christmas tradition.

Recipe: Boil three pints of ale Beat six eggs Add the eggs to the boiling ale Add sugar, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and roasted apples Serve hot and WATCH OUT’

Duncan Royale Russian Saint Nicholas - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia shortly after he was canonized in the ninth century. some 500 years after his death.

It was 987 A.D. when St. Nicholas’ memory first made news in Russia. Duke Vladimir wished to marry Princess Anna of Byzantium, but the Duke had to publicly accept Christianity in order to win Anna ‘s hand.

He returned to Russia from Byzantium with a portrait of Saint Nicholas and also brought with him the various legends surrounding the life of Saint

Nicholas, including tales of the many miracles reputed to him.

These many legends, passed down to each succeeding generation, gained Saint Nicholas the honor of being recognized as patron saint of such diverse people as sailors, maidens, packers, and even pawnbrokers.

The Russian depiction of Saint Nicholas is generally that of a bearded man, an image which is certainly based on the portrait Duke Vladimir brought from Byzantium.

Duncan Royale Medieval Santa Claus - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

By the twelfth century the legends surrounding St. Nicholas were widely known and accepted. The tales of the marvelous deeds attributed to him had been carried across Europe and Asia Minor by wandering minstrels, crusaders, nomad gypsies, and the occasional invading army.

Having been a recognized saint for some 300 years and a favorite folk hero for 600 years. the physical image of Santa differed from culture to culture mainly due to lack of communication. The means of communication in those days were simply too basic to permit a physical description of Santa acceptable to all.

Usually, St. Nicholas’ beard had been pictured as dark. The beard did not change to white until after 1300 A. D. Since Christianity was still spreading, the legends of St. Nicholas were being interwoven with various pagan traditions and lore, including those of the Norse god Odin. He was visualized as a presence with a long white beard, riding a horse in the sky.

The ability to fly eventually took hold. Until then however, St. Nicholas was generally an earth-bound gypsy wandering from house to house with his gifts and his band of gnomes. (Some of the gnomes had their own identities. See Black Peter).

Duncan Royale Victorian Santa Claus - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

Surprisingly, the old English Santa Claus of the Victorian Age had less of an origin in St. Nicholas as it did on the continent.

In England, Santa Claus was a composite, embodying the elements and spirit of Christmas as well as the spirit of several pre-Christian legends.

The Victorian English still generally referred to the jolly old elf as “Father Christmas”. However, he owes many of his roots to the ancient Roman gods such as Saturn who was thought to bring food, wine and good fortune to the Roman Empire each year, and the Norse gods such as Odin who was known

to roam the skies on a chariot with his long white beard flowing.

Prior to the 1800s, Father Christmas was portrayed in mammoth proportions, a giant in a fur-lined robe and mistletoe headdress. Later, with some help from Clement Moore’s illustrated edition of “A Visit from St. Nicholas” in 1848, Santa began to evolve toward the image we recognize today.

Whereas the Americans preferred to give Santa a rougher, pioneer image in the mid-nineteenth century, the English opted for a more dignified look with 1 clay pipe and elegant costuming.

Duncan Royale Black Peter - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

During the Middle Ages, the Dutch referred to the Devil as Black Peter. Gradually, the antithesis of Christmas found his way into Christmas folklore in Holland.

A legend existed that St. Nicholas put the Devil in chains and made him his slave. Each St. Nicholas Day it was believed that the Devil himself was working under orders from Saint Nick. The good Saint would direct “Black Peter” to drop gifts and candy down the chimneys into the children’s shoes which were always there on St. Nicholas Eve. Eventually, the practice was carried over to Christmas which was actually a few weeks later. I

Gradually, the legend gave “Black Peter” a role in St. Nicholas’ decision making as to what the Dutch children should receive for Christmas. The naughty ones and the lazy ones would be spirited away during the night by Black Peter, or punished with a birch rod. St. Nicholas would always force this evil slave to reward the good children with gifts. The fate of the naughty children was often spared by St. Nicholas at the last moment in some cultures, subject to a promise to be good during the following year. Depending on which legend one followed during these times the names for Black Peter varied from Hans Trapp to Knecht Ruppert to Krampus.

Interestingly, depictions of Black Peter became an early form of political satire. St. Nick’s devilish little helper was often dressed in Spanish clothing. It is thought that Peter’s attire Was: a subtle protest against the Spanish rule of Holland during this era. Adding to this theory is the legend that the place to which Black Peter would take the errant children after their abduction was none other than Spain itself.

Duncan Royale Dedt Moroz Father Ice - 12 Inch - AVAILABLE

An ancient Russian bedtime story, which was often told to children to frighten them into being good, has a cast of characters headed by Dedt Moroz. . . Father Ice.

According to the story, a Siberian woman had a kindhearted stepdaughter and a wicked natural daughter. The good girl was always treated more harshly by her step-mother. One day, in a fit of rage, the step-mother threw the girl out into the cold. Dedt Moroz appeared on his sleigh and, impressed by her kindness “Father Ice” rewarded her with diamonds.

Hearing of this, the step-mother put her own natural daughter into the snow. The wicked young girl galled Father Ice by throwing a tantrum. Father Ice punished the little brat by turning her into a pillar of ice.

This story gradually became associated with Christmas due to the appearance of Dedt Moroz in drawings. His long, white beard and sleigh gave a feeling of Christmas.

Duncan Royale St. Nicholas Bishop of Myra - 12 inch - AVAILABLE

An ancient manuscript called the "Golden Legend" tells of a man name Nicholas who, while on a ship plying the Mediterranean, asked God to calm a fierce storm. The weather cleared and the ship drifted into the harbor of Myra, in what is now Turkey. At that time, the elders of the local church were attempting to elect a new bishop. A message from God, in the form of a vision, instructed the elders to select the first man named Nicholas who entered the church to pray after a certain hour. In walked the nearly shipwrecked Nicholas to thank God for his survival. To his surprise, he was then elected Bishop of Myra.

Nicholas was credited with many miracles and good deeds. It was while he was a young boy that the most memorable of these good deeds reportedly occurred. The story involves three young girls from a once wealthy family. 4 Their father could no longer afford to give the girls each a dowry so they could marry. They secretly agreed to draw lots, the loser to sell herself into slavery to provide a dowry for the two lucky ones. The legend has it that Nicholas heard of their plight and made a nighttime visit, dropping bags of gold into their windows. They each had a dowry and one of them was saved from slavery.

As an outgrowth of this legend, French nuns in the twelfth century began making night time visits to poor families with children, leaving fruits and nuts which these families could not afford. The nuns made their gift-giving rounds on St. Nicholas’ Eve, December 5th. The tradition spread through the Old World and then to the New.

The proximity of St. Nicholas’ Day to Christmas eventually melded the two feast days into part of the holiday season.