A Thomas Nast Santa, from 1881, wearing the modern Santa suit

PaperPlanes#1 – Made of Poetry

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

Reproduced above are lines from the poem The Night Before Christmas composed by Clement Clarke Moore for his children on the Christmas Eve of 1822. The poem was originally called A Visit from St. Nicholas and travelled time to become the most defining description of the modern day Santa Claus. How?

In 1863, Harper’s Weekly hired Thomas Nast to draw Santa Claus bringing gifts for the troops fighting in the American Civil War. Nast resorted to Clement’s poem for his inspiration and the resulting Santa was welcomed warmly by the troops. This Santa was a much more relatable one when compared to the ones depicted before Clement’s poem. Nast drew this Santa every year for 40 years.

Years later, Coca Cola in 1931, commissioned D’Arcy Advertising Agency and Michigan-born artist Haddon Sundblom to create a campaign featuring Santa Claus who would be friendlier and more approachable than the earlier versions being used by the company till then. The inspiration came again from Clement’s poem. The ‘jolly old elf’ has come to represent happiness as well as Coke till today,  all from a poem that went out anonymously when it was published for the first time!



ReferenceCoke Lore Santa Claus


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