Mrs. Claus

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Mrs. Claus says goodbye to her husband as he sets off on his journey in this 1919 postcard Mr&MrsSantaClaus.jpg
Mrs. Claus says goodbye to her husband as he sets off on his journey in this 1919 postcard

Mrs. Claus (also known as Mrs Santa Claus) is the wife of Santa Claus, the Christmas gift-bringer in American and European Christmas tradition. She is known for making cookies with the elves, caring for the reindeer, and preparing toys with her husband.

Santa Claus Folkloric figure, said to deliver gifts to children on Christmas Eve

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, or simply Santa, is a legendary figure originating in Western Christian culture who is said to bring gifts to the homes of well-behaved children on the night of Christmas Eve and the early morning hours of Christmas Day. The modern Santa Claus grew out of traditions surrounding the historical Saint Nicholas, the British figure of Father Christmas and the Dutch figure of Sinterklaas. Some maintain Santa Claus also absorbed elements of the Germanic god Wodan, who was associated with the pagan midwinter event of Yule and led the Wild Hunt, a ghostly procession through the sky.

Christmas gift-bringer Type of folkloric Christmas figures

A number of Midwinter or Christmas traditions in European folklore involve gift-bringers. Mostly involving the figure of a bearded old man, the traditions have mutually influenced one another, and have adopted aspects from Christian hagiography, even before the modern period. In Slavic countries, the figure is mostly Father Frost. In Scandinavia, it is an elf-like figure or tomten who comes at Yule . In Western Europe, the figure was also similar to an elf, developing into Father Christmas in the modern period in Great Britain. In German-speaking Europe and Latin Europe, it became associated with the Christian Saint Nicholas.

Contents

Origin

The wife of Santa Claus is first mentioned in the short story "A Christmas Legend" (1849), by James Rees, a Philadelphia-based Christian missionary. [1] In the story, an old man and woman, both carrying a bundle on the back, are given shelter in a home on Christmas Eve as weary travelers. The next morning, the children of the house find an abundance of gifts for them, and the couple is revealed to be not "old Santa Claus and his wife", but the hosts' long-lost elder daughter and her husband in disguise.

James Rees was an American author, playwright, and editor.

Missionary member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism

A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin missionem, meaning "act of sending" or mittere, meaning "to send". The word was used in light of its biblical usage; in the Latin translation of the Bible, Christ uses the word when sending the disciples to preach The gospel in his name. The term is most commonly used for Christian missions, but can be used for any creed or ideology.

Mrs. Santa Claus is mentioned by name in the pages of the Yale Literary Magazine in 1851, where the student author (whose name is given only as "A. B.") writes of the appearance of Santa Claus at a Christmas party:

<i>Yale Literary Magazine</i> journal

The Yale Literary Magazine, founded in 1836, is the oldest literary magazine in the United States and publishes poetry and fiction by Yale undergraduates twice per academic year.

[I]n bounded that jolly, fat and funny old elf, Santa Claus. His array was indescribably fantastic. He seemed to have done his best; and we should think, had Mrs. Santa Claus to help him. [2]

An account of a Christmas musicale at the State Lunatic Asylum in Utica, New York in 1854 included an appearance by Mrs. Santa Claus, with baby in arms, who danced to a holiday song. [3]

Utica, New York City in New York ----, United States

Utica is a city in the Mohawk Valley and the county seat of Oneida County, New York, United States. The tenth-most-populous city in New York, its population was 62,235 in the 2010 U.S. census. Located on the Mohawk River at the foot of the Adirondack Mountains, Utica is approximately 95 miles northwest of Albany, 55 mi (89 km) east of Syracuse and 240 mi (386 km) northwest of New York City. Utica and the nearby city of Rome anchor the Utica–Rome Metropolitan Statistical Area, which comprises all of Oneida and Herkimer counties.

A passing references to Mrs. Santa Claus was made in an essay in Harper's Magazine in 1862; [4] and in the comic novel The Metropolites (1864) by Robert St. Clar, she appears in a woman's dream, wearing "Hessian high boots, a dozen of short, red petticoats, an old, large, straw bonnet" and bringing the woman a wide selection of finery to wear. [5]

<i>Harpers Magazine</i> magazine

Harper's Magazine is a monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts. Launched in June 1850, it is the second-oldest continuously published monthly magazine in the U.S.. Harper's Magazine has won 22 National Magazine Awards.

Hessian (boot) knee-high mens boot with a V-shaped notch and tassel at the top front

The Hessian is a style of light boot that became popular from the beginning of the 19th century.

Petticoat skirt-like undergarment, sometimes intended to show, worn under a skirt or dress

A petticoat or underskirt is an article of clothing, a type of undergarment worn under a skirt or a dress. Its precise meaning varies over centuries and between countries.

The keeper of the naughty-or-nice ledger in "Lill's Travels in Santa Claus Land", 1878 Lill's Travels.png
The keeper of the naughty-or-nice ledger in "Lill's Travels in Santa Claus Land", 1878

A woman who may or may not be Mrs. Santa Claus appeared in the children's book Lill in Santa Claus Land and Other Stories by Ellis Towne, Sophie May and Ella Farman, published in Boston in 1878. In the story, little Lill describes her imaginary visit to Santa's office (not in the Arctic, incidentally):

Rebecca Sophia Clarke American author of childrens books

Rebecca Sophia Clarke, also known as Sophie May, was an American author of children's fiction. Using her nieces and nephews as inspiration, she wrote realistic stories about children. Between 1860 and 1903, she wrote 45 books between 1860 and 1903, the most popular being the Little Prudy series. She spent most of her life in her native town of Norridgewock, Maine.

Eliza Anna Farman Pratt was an American writer of children's literature.

Boston State capital of Massachusetts, U.S.

Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States, and the 21st most populous city in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 694,583 in 2018, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth most populous in the United States.

"There was a lady sitting by a golden desk, writing in a large book, and Santa Claus was looking through a great telescope, and every once in a while he stopped and put his ear to a large speaking-tube.
"Presently he said to the lady, ‘Put down a good mark for Sarah Buttermilk. I see she is trying to conquer her quick temper.’
“‘Two bad ones for Isaac Clappertongue; he’ll drive his mother to the insane asylum yet.’"

Later, Lill's sister Effie ponders the tale:

Effie sank back in the chair to think. She wished Lill had found out how many black marks she had, and whether that lady was Mrs. Santa Claus—and had, in fact, obtained more accurate information about many things.

Much as in The Metropolites, Mrs. Santa Claus appears in a dream of the author E. C. Gardner in his article "A Hickory Back-Log" in Good Housekeeping magazine (1887), with an even more detailed description of her dress:

She was dressed for traveling and for cold weather. Her hood was large and round and red but not smooth, — it was corrugated; that is to say, it consisted of a series of rolls nearly as large as my arm, passing over her head sidewise, growing smaller toward the back until they terminated in a big button that was embellished with a knot of green ribbon. Its general appearance was not unlike that of the familiar, pictorial beehive except that the rolls were not arranged spirally. The broad, white ruffle of her lace cap projected several inches beyond the front of the hood and waved back and forth like the single leaves of a great white poppy, as she nodded emphatically in her discourse.
Her outer garment was a bright colored plaid worsted cloak reaching to within about six inches of the floor. Its size was most voluminous, but its fashion was extremely simple. It had a wide yoke across the shoulders, into which the broad plain breadths were gathered; and it was fastened at the throat by a huge ornamented brass hook and eye, from which hung a short chain of round twisted links. Her right arm protruded through a vertical slit at the side of the cloak and she held in her hand a sheet of paper covered with figures. The left arm on which she carried a large basket or bag — I couldn't tell which — was hidden by the ample folds of the garment. Her countenance was keen and nervous, but benignant.

Mrs. Claus proceeds to instruct the architect Gardner on the ideal modern kitchen, a plan of which he includes in the article. [6]

Illustration from Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh-Ride, 1889 Goody Santa Claus.jpg
Illustration from Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh-Ride, 1889

Santa Claus' wife made her most active appearance yet by Katharine Lee Bates in her poem "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride" (1889). [7] "Goody" is short for "Goodwife", i.e., "Mrs." [8]

In Bates' poem, Mrs. Claus wheedles a Christmas Eve sleigh-ride from a reluctant Santa in recompense for tending their toy and bonbon laden Christmas trees, their Thanksgiving turkeys, and their "rainbow chickens" that lay Easter eggs. Once away, Mrs. Claus steadies the reindeer while Santa goes about his work descending chimneys to deliver gifts. She begs Santa to permit her to descend a chimney. Santa grudingly grants her request and she descends a chimney to mend a poor child's tattered stocking and to fill it with gifts. Once the task is completed, the Clauses return to their Arctic home. At the end of the poem, Mrs. Claus remarks that she is the "gladdest of the glad" because she has had her "own sweet will".

Since 1889, Mrs. Claus has been generally depicted in media as a fairly heavy-set, kindly, white-haired elderly female baking cookies somewhere in the background of the Santa Claus mythos. She sometimes assists in toy production, and oversees Santa's elves. It is worth noting that, when not portrayed as white-haired or elderly, she is often shown to have red hair. This could be because red hair is the color that most commonly fades to white with age.[ citation needed ] She is usually depicted wearing a fur dress of red or green.

Her reappearance in popular media in the 1960s began with the children's book How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas, by Phyllis McGinley. Today, Mrs. Claus is commonly seen in cartoons, on greeting cards, in knick-knacks such as Christmas tree ornaments, dolls, and salt and pepper shakers, in storybooks, in seasonal school plays and pageants, in parades, in department store "Santa Lands" as a character adjacent to the throned Santa Claus, in television programs, and live action and animated films that deal with Christmas and the world of Santa Claus. Her personality tends to be fairly consistent; she is usually seen as a calm, kind, and patient woman, often in contrast to Santa himself, who can be prone to acting too exuberant.

Literature

Mrs. Claus has appeared as a secondary character in children's books about Santa Claus and as the main character in titles about herself.

Movies

Television

Mrs. Claus played a major role in several of Rankin/Bass' Christmas specials. In Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), she is seen as pestering her husband to eat, lest he become a “skinny Santa,” and in Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July (a movie that unites characters from Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman , among other Rankin/Bass Christmas specials), Santa calls her "Jessica" at one point.[ citation needed ] In Santa Claus is Coming to Town (1970), she is introduced as a teacher named Jessica, who first meets Santa Claus (then known as Kris Kringle) as a young man, when he's trying to illegally deliver toys to a town run by a despotic ruler. She assists him, and thus becomes a wanted fugitive herself with Kringle and his confederates. In light of this sacrifice, Jessica and Santa soon fall in love with each other, and marry in the nearby forest. In 1974's The Year Without a Santa Claus and the 2006 live action remake, Mrs. Claus played a large role, as she attempts to show Santa (who wishes to stay home that year for Christmas when he feels no one appreciates or believes in him anymore) that there's still some Christmas spirit left in the world. Mrs. Claus also made appearances in several other Rankin/Bass specials.

The lady was also portrayed in a television musical, Mrs. Santa Claus (1996), played by Angela Lansbury, with songs by Jerry Herman. Neglected by her husband, she goes to New York in 1910, and gets involved in agitating for women's rights and against child labor in toy manufacturing. Of course, she gets to learn how "Santa misses Mrs. Claus", as the sentimental song lyrics have it. She goes by the name of Anna.

One of Mrs. Claus's most unusual television appearances is in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Christmas special Billy and Mandy Save Christmas. In this story her name is Nancy and she is a powerful vampiress who, angry that Santa leaves most of the work for her, turns him into a vampire so she can take a break (which is about the six or seventh time she's done so), when she gets the idea from Mandy to try and take over the world before Billy reconciles them. Another unusual appearance is in the Robot Chicken Christmas Special, during which, in a Dragon Ball Z parody sketch, she gains powers from the North Pole's radiation, and becomes a giant monster that Goku, Gohan, and Rudolph must destroy.

In A Charlie Brown Christmas , Charlie Brown's sister Sally writes to Santa and asks, "How is your wife?" Later, in It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown , she writes Santa's wife herself, and, when Charlie Brown comments that some people call her "Mary Christmas," Sally congratulates her on choosing to keep her own surname. In Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales , Sally writes Santa Claus as "Samantha Claus", inadvertently thinking Samantha Claus is Santa Claus's wife.

Mrs. Claus appears in A Chipmunk Christmas , where she buys Alvin a harmonica after he gives his old one to a sick boy. Her identity isn't revealed until the end, when Santa returns home and she greets him.

Boost Mobile created some controversy with an ad featuring Mrs. Claus in bed with a snowman. One version was briefly aired on late-night TV while two alternate versions were posted online. [9] Ad Age had some commentary about the spot, including “This latest ad from Boost Mobile and agency 180, Los Angeles, features Mrs. Claus doing something very, very bad." [10] Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly, CNN and a number of local TV news channels commented about the ads.

Marks & Spencer 2016 Christmas Campaign

For 2016, British clothing and food company Marks & Spencer launched an integrated marketing campaign centered on a modern interpretation of Mrs. Claus. The campaign included a three-minute ad released on 11 November 2016 which sees Mrs. Claus receiving a letter from a seven-year-old child asking for help with a gift for his older sister, whom the boy has a difficult relationship with.

The ad depicts Mrs Claus as more modern than previous examples, with her riding a snowmobile and flying a helicopter while Santa is out delivering gifts in the traditional sleigh. At the conclusion of the ad, she says to Santa “Well it wouldn’t be fun if you knew all my secrets” suggesting she has a secret life assisting with Christmas present delivery. The brand also created a social media campaign in which Mrs. Claus answered requests and questions from members of the public.

The ad was received positively by customers and the press with many people commending the brand for taking a feminist approach to a traditional character. [11] [12]

The ad was directed by Academy-award winner Tom Hooper with Mrs Claus played by British actress Janet McTeer. Music was composed by Rachel Portman. The ad was created for Marks & Spencer by advertising agency Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, a London-based division of Young & Rubican.

Music

In 1953 Nat King Cole had a single released, "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot", featuring on the flipside his rendition of a song, "Mrs. Santa Claus", with accompaniment by Nelson Riddle's orchestra. [13]

In contrast to her stereotypical portrayal, Mrs. Claus is portrayed as a woman bored with her relationship with Santa Claus in the song "Surabaya-Santa" from Jason Robert Brown's musical Songs for a New World and in the Oszkars' off-color song "Mrs. Claus has a Headache Again".

In 1987, George Jones and Tammy Wynette released a single, "Mr and Mrs Santa Claus", a love song sung by Jones and Wynette as Mr. and Mrs. Claus respectively.

Bob Rivers recorded a parody of the soul song "Me and Mrs. Jones", entitled "Me and Mrs. Claus", on his 2002 album White Trash Christmas .

Bob Ricci recorded a parody of the pop hit "Stacy's Mom", entitled "Mrs. Claus".

Video games

See also

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Santa Claus in film depictions of Santa Claus in film

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Santa Clauss reindeer Legendary reindeer who pull Santa Clauss sleigh

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References

  1. James Rees, Mysteries of City Life , J. W. Moore, 1849, p. 1.
  2. "Holiday Week", The Yale Literary Magazine, vol. 17, December 1851, p. 82.
  3. "Santa Claus", The Opal, vol. 4, no. 1, 1854, p. 27.
  4. "Editor's Easy Chair", Harper's, vol. 24, no. 141, February 1862, p. 411.
  5. Robert St. Clar, The Metropolites , New York: American News Company, 1864, p. 37CHICKEN POT PIE9.
  6. E. C. Gardner, "A Hickory Back-Log", Good Housekeeping, vol. 4, no. 6, January 22, 1887, p. 125.
  7. Penne L. Restad, Christmas in America: A History, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 148. ISBN   978-0-19-510980-1. Although Restad gives the publication year as 1899, most sources say the poem was published in 1889.
  8. "Goodwife" and "Goody", The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed.
  9. "boostmobilecommunity.com". www.BoostMobileCommunity.com. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  10. Wheaton, Ken (2009-12-01). "Mrs. Claus Gets Frigid in Naughty Boost Mobile Ad | Advertising and Marketing Wisdom: Adages - Advertising Age". Adage.com. Retrieved 2012-12-24.
  11. Metro.co.uk, Olivia Waring for (2016-11-11). "The 2016 M&S Christmas advert about Santa's wife totally sleighs John Lewis". Metro. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  12. "All hail Mrs Claus! How the M&S Christmas ad went fully feminist". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-11-22.
  13. 01musicfan (21 December 2010). "Nat King Cole - Mrs. Santa Claus" . Retrieved 22 May 2017 via YouTube.