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In the world of Christmas Hats, there isn’t a single one in the world that’s as popular as the one worn by Santa Claus. It is the standard against which each and every Christmas Hat in the world is considered.
That makes good sense, really. When it comes to images of Christmas, Santa is front and center. Across the world, people recognize that slightly overweight, extremely happy resident of the North Pole. They know his white beard, black boots and they know his red suit, right down to the floppy red hat with white fur trim.
But how did Santa come to wear that hat? Has he always had it?
Long ago, Santa Claus was actually Saint Nicholas – a religious saint who had a thing for giving both friends and enemies gifts. Popular images of this saint portrayed him as bone thin and more often than not wearing the robes of a Bishop. There wasn’t much there that appealed to a child’s sense of wonder or joy.
That came to a sudden – and apparently permanent – end in 1863. That was the year that Harper’s Magazine contracted with cartoonist Thomas Nast to draw a picture of Santa Claus for them. Nast was well-known as a political cartoonist and caricaturist with biting wit and sharp tongue. His rendition of Santa Claus took the stereotype of the time and stood it on his head. Nast’s Santa was fat and jolly and he was decked out in red and – yes – he wore that familiar cap.
Since then, through movies and television specials and countless songs and even poems, that image of Santa Claus has become the dominant image of Christmas everywhere.
Santa’s hat hasn’t changed much since Nast drew it, either. It is always floppy and always red – the color of the Christmas holiday. It has white fur time and often a white pom pom. In some ways it resembles a sleeping cap. Some people believe it’s more of a tuque – that is, a wool knit cap worn for warmth in winter. After all, a resident of the North Pole would need one, wouldn’t he?
But definitions aren’t really the point. The truth is, when it comes to Holiday Hats, the Santa hat is boss.
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