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"Redefining Santa Claus: The Role of Black Fathers during the Holidays"

Updated: Dec 21, 2022



The history of African American fathers and Santa Claus is a complex and multifaceted one, reflecting the diverse experiences and cultural traditions of Black families in the United States. The modern-day figure of Santa Claus is primarily based on a combination of St. Nicholas and other holiday traditions, such as the English figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas. The image of Santa Claus as a plump, jolly old man with a white beard, red suit, and black boots is primarily a 20th-century creation, popularized through the work of artist Haddon Sundblom and Coca-Cola's marketing campaigns.


Unfortunately, this symbol has been embraced by many African American families as a symbol of the holiday season. However, the portrayal of Santa Claus as a white man often excluded or marginalized Black fathers and families, who were often denied access to many of the same holiday traditions and celebrations that were enjoyed by white families. In the 1960s and 1970s, during the Civil Rights Movement, many African Americans sought to reclaim and celebrate their own cultural traditions and history, including those related to the holiday season. This led to the creation of alternative holiday traditions and celebrations that were more inclusive and reflective of the diversity of the African American community.


Today, many Black fathers and families continue to celebrate the holiday season in a variety of ways, incorporating both traditional and culturally-specific elements into their celebrations. Some families may choose to focus on traditional holiday activities like gift-giving and decorating, while others may focus on cultural traditions like Kwanzaa, which was created in 1966 to celebrate African American heritage and culture.


Regardless of how they choose to celebrate, Black fathers play a vital role in creating and shaping the holiday traditions and celebrations of their families, and in passing these traditions down to future generations. As for the history of Black fathers in relation to the figure of Santa Claus, it is important to note that the image of Santa Claus as a white man is a relatively recent development. In many cultures, Christmas traditions and gift-giving figures have a variety of appearances and may not necessarily be associated with a specific race. In the United States, the image of Santa Claus as a white man has been used as a means of promoting and perpetuating the idea of white supremacy. However, in recent years, there has been a push to diversify the image of Santa Claus and to recognize the contributions and traditions of Black fathers and other fathers of color.


Here are some references that may be helpful in learning more about the history of Santa Claus and Black fathers:



"The History of Santa Claus: From Saint Nicholas to Kris Kringle" by History.com Editors https://www.history.com/topics/christmas/santa-claus






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