The myths, stories, and legends that make up our popular image of Father Christmas, are rooted deeply in the human past. A host of characters, historical and fantastical, have come together to bring happiness to children of all ages and many cultures.
England that gives us the Father Christmas of British Traditions that we are so familiar with. Clad all in robes of green and crowned with holly, the Master of the Christmas Revels ruled over the Feasts of the Holidays and the spreading of the riches of the season. He survived The earliest glimmers of this ﬁgure Oliver Cromwell’s ban on Keeping are in our deep ancestral stone age Christmas and emerged as the ﬁgure and the shamanic cultures of early of the Ghost of Christmas Present in Europe. There, painted on the walls the tales of Charles Dickens. of caves, we ﬁnd dancing, antlered wizards, wise old men with wagging beards. Later, amongst the reindeer herding tribal peoples of the northern most climes, we hear legends of Magic Shamans, riding their ﬂying reindeer on the Winter Solstice, dressed in red, and bringing gifts through the smoke holes of nomad’s tents.
Later, these traditions found fertile ground with those of the Norse countries. Tales of Odin the Wise, All Father of the Gods, were sowed wherever the Vikings raided and spread their legends. Odin was often depicted as a lone traveler, clad in a cloak and hood, with a satchel of food. He would sit by ﬁres, listening and leaving bread for those who were needy. In this we ﬁnd much of the symbols we expect. A secret visit, and bounty shared. As the Norse stories of Odin encountered those of the Saxons and Germanic peoples, they merged into the tales of Father Winter, or King Frost. Welcomed as a monarch to the ﬁreside, it was hoped that The Lord of the Winter Solstice would be kind to those who greeted him. It is the meeting of these tales in
All the while, on the European continent, a cult of veneration had grown up around the tales of Saint Nicholas of Myra. A early 3rd century Christian Bishop, renowned for his generosity and anonymous gift giving to the poor, St. Nicholas came to be a much loved ﬁgure of the early Church. One tale has him leaving gifts of coins in stockings hung from the mantle to dry! In the Netherlands, this Christian Saint was merged with those tales of the Germanic peoples, and named in the Dutch language as Sinter Klaas. From there, his spirit were carried across the oceans, to the town of New Amsterdam, a trading port in North America that would one day grow into the majestic city of New York. In this New World, a melting pot of myths, stories and peoples, the legends of Father Christmas were ﬁnally blended into the form we see so often
today. The Dutch Santa Claus gained the Sleigh of Flying Reindeer from the Shamans, the hooded cloak and magic bag from Odin, and the Jolly Nature of Father Winter. This was distilled from the stories told to children and around Yule ﬁres into the famous poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas”, ﬁrst published anonymously in 1823. This image of Santa Claus and his reindeer, bringing gifts to boys and girls on Christmas Eve grew in popularity. He had come to be depicted in the red of the Shamans and the Bishop, with a suit trimmed in white fur against the winter chill. In the late 1930’s, Coca Cola Soda company noted his wearing of their corporate colors, and in a move of sheer marketing genius, they hired the popular illustrator Haddon Sundblom to depict Santa Claus for their advertisements. Drawing from his own Dutch ancestry, and the illustrations of Thomas Nast from the 19th Century, Sundblom’s art ﬁnalized the Santa we know today, clad in red and white, well fed, and full of jolly laughter!
However, the true spirit of Father Christmas, the bounty of riches freely shared, suggests the spirit that lives in each of us during the Holiday Season. Whatever our religious background, Santa offers us a character of generosity and charity that can be an example for all. Article by Shane Odom of www.mythicaldesigns.com
What better gift for any fantasy lover than a calendar of beautiful art? This is a gift that keeps giving and can be enjoyed throughout the year as the time ﬂows and the seasons change. We have ﬁve of our favourite calendars below and you can click on any of the calendar images to go and buy them.
Ash Evans is a talented painter of mythical creatures so for people who like unicorns and dragons her calendar is sure to enchant and enthrall in equal measure. The cover image is “Cloud Dance”, a beautiful piece of equine fantasy art with a pegasus framed against a beautiful sky. To see more of her art you can visit: www.ashevans.com
Selina Fenech hails from Australia and paints both fairies and other mythical creatures. Her work is an invitation to a world of enchantment. Will you accept or refuse? Selina’s 2010 calendar is a limited edition of 150 and each one is hand signed by the artist. Her website is: www.selinafenech.com
Jessica Galbreth is one of the foremost painters of fairies and fantasy today and her calendars are always popular with fans of the genre. Her 2010 calendar looks like being no exception. It is a 13 month calendar and features her all time best selling artwork “The Morrigan” as the cover image. Jessica’s website is www.enchanted-art.com
Jasmine Becket-Grifﬁth is one of the best known fairy and fantasy artists today. Her art has been licensed by many companies and her distinctive "big eye" style of art has built up quite a following. Jasmine has even been asked by Disney to reproduce some of their most popular characters in her own style. Jasmine's website is www.strangeling.com
Joseph Corsentino from Time of the Faeries is a renowned fantasy photographer and has photo-realistic fairies in his art. A mix of fashion and faery, Joseph's work will add something to any room and his calendar with the dramatic urban fairy imagery is sure to inspire and delight. His website is www.timeofthefaeries.com
The award winning Mouse Guard series of graphic novels by David Peterson tell the tale of the Guard, a small group of warrior-guides who protect their kind on the often perilous journeys between their villages as well as providing general protection from predators. Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 is stunningly illustrated throughout and will be treasured by anyone who has followed the series from it’s inception or indeed new readers. With graphic novels it is often too easy to get caught up in the brilliance of the illustration at the expense of the story but Mouse Guard once again combines a soaring story arc and incredible art to provide an amazing reader experience. Truly a must have for any Fantasy fan this festive season. Pride and Prejudice... and Zombies! The Jane Austin classic gets a new lease of life... erm... undeath with the introduction of zombies to the plotline. It seems a strange concept but it actually works very well indeed. This is proving to be an extremely popular concept and is deﬁnitely worth reading for curiosity’s sake. It is actually a very good mashup that remarkably stays somewhat true to the original telling despite the undead additions to the cast. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been getting very good reviews and will certainly make for an interesting and different xmas gift! “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” Flirt is the 18th installment of the popular Anita Blake - Vampire Hunter series of books from the incredibly proliﬁc fantasy author Laurell K. Hamilton. The latest in the Anita Blake series is bound to prove popular with her legion of fan, it isn’t available until early in the new year but it is available for pre-order from most large book sellers. Laurell K. Hamilton is a New York Times bestselling author and has also recently released Divine Misdemeanours, the latest in the Meredith Gentry series. Meredith Gentry is an ex-princess of the Fae realms and Meredith is caught somewhere between her Fae and Human lives, struggling not to be drawn into the politics and intrigue of her Faerie home. The wild magic runs in her veins and she is determned to wield it to protect those that she loves from the threatened danger. Divine Misdemeanours will make a great gift for any fan of L.K. Hamilton.
CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS Hanging ornaments for Christmas trees make excellent gifts. For the discerning fantasy fan we recommend the ornaments pictured above by Ash Evans. Nothing says the festive season quite like Dragons, Fairy Cats and winged Unicorns on the tree! Order now at www.ashevans.com
CHRISTMAS CANDLE PRINT This is quite simply a stunning piece of festive art by renowned Fantasy artist Jasmine Becket-GrifďŹ th and would make an excellent addition to any fantasy or fairy art loverâ€™s collection. Order now at: www.strangeling.com
HOLIDAY MAGIC PRINT This gorgeous festive print features the winged black cat Fortuna and some baby penguins beside a Christmas tree. Holiday Magic is available in a selection of different print sizes and is also available as Christmas / Greeting Cards from www.ashevans.com