• Why is Santa Really Red?
  • Santa Claus - Coca-Cola Ad

Why Is Santa Really Red?

Santa is the most well-known figure when it comes to the holiday season, but could you possibly imagine him without his red coat?

In fact, his famous red outfit has become so commonplace in the world that nobody even stops to question where on earth it came from.

The history of Santa Claus

Santa Claus is based on the historic figure, Saint Nicholas. He was a man who had been left a large amount of money by his parents when they passed away. Rather than using all the money for his own pleasure and enjoyment, he used much of it to help the poor people.

They would receive secret gifts from him, and he was eventually made a saint because of his generosity.

The colour of Santa Claus

When it comes to why Santa is really red, historians have taken a look at the clothing of saints during the early centuries.

Saint Nicholas lived during the 4th century – a time when their robes were red and white. Nicholas is thought to have worn red and white attire, which could possibly be one of the reasons why our modernised Father Christmas wears those colours.

Did Santa ever wear a different colour?

Beginning in the 16th century, Father Christmas was introduced to the UK and was the Santa-figure of the Christmas season.

Like Saint Nicholas, he was a character filled with cheer, goodwill and gifts for everybody to enjoy. However, Father Christmas wore green rather than red, supposedly to symbolise the coming of spring. Over the years, Father Christmas and Santa Claus have become one, which means they both wear red.

Thomas Nast, a popular American cartoonist, drew a picture of Santa for Harper’s Weekly magazine in 1862. The original pictures featured Santa wearing a tan outfit, but over the next thirty years, it was gradually transformed into a red suit.

Santa Claus and Coca-Cola

The fat and jolly Santa Claus that we know and love today was first created for an advertising campaign by Coca-Cola. In the 1920’s, images of Santa in a red coat were featured in magazines and newspapers.

Haddon Sundblom is the man who is credited with the creation of the modern-day Santa.

He was commissioned by Coca-Cola in 1931, when the Great Depression was well and truly underway and the company wanted to bring something new to the table. They asked Sundblom to come up with a Santa who would symbolise Christmas, while also being realistic and relatable to customers.

Sundblom took inspiration from the 1822 poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’ by Clement Clark Moore. In this poem, Santa is described as jolly and plump, with rosy cheeks, twinkling eyes and dimples.

However, the red coat worn by Santa was certainly nothing new by this time. Not only did Sundblom have the robes of Saint Nicholas to copy, but he could also refer to the works of Thomas Nash, which showed a red coat before the end of the 19th century.

Sundblom stopped illustrating Santa Claus in 1964, but Coca-Cola still use our favourite Christmas character to advertise their popular drinks.

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2018-12-12T19:56:51+00:00

About the Author

Lizzie Robinson
Lizzie Robinson has been a freelance writer since 2011. She studied English Literature at university and enjoys sailing & playing the piano in her free time. Lizzie enjoys writing about current issues & business.

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