The world is full of lies, and it’s hard to get through life without taking a few on board. Luckily, we’re here to sort the fact from the fiction, and find the plankton of truth in the ocean of bullshit. This week: Santa! Just how jolly is he really, and how much fun would it actually be to see him making out with your mom? Let’s suit up and find out.
Lie #1: If Daddy Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, That Would Be ‘A Laugh’
“I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus / Underneath the mistletoe last night” begins the festive classic, which goes on to detail “what a laugh it would have been / if Daddy could have seen.” However, it wouldn’t be a laugh at all: Accusations of infidelity are the most common trigger for domestic abuse. Witnessing parental infidelity as a child can also be “devastating” and affect said child’s future romantic relationships as an adult. So, no, not very festive.
Lie #2: Santa is a Jolly, Wholesome Fella!
Lovely old wobbly Santa Claus: what a ledge, right? Well, they say you can judge the character of a man by the company he keeps, and in the Netherlands, he’s often accompanied by a pal in blackface. In France, he swans about with his pal Old Man Whipper, who beats the shit out of poorly behaved children. In Germany, he is accompanied by Knecht Ruprecht, who drowns misbehaving children in hessian sacks. And in a lot of Northern Europe, he hangs out with the Satanlike half-goat Krampus, a lascivious, schnapps-guzzling, chain-rattling demonic figure who takes children away to Hell.
He likes a drink, as well, that Santa. Based on these figures estimated by The Atlantic regarding children visited by Santa, and these ones from the U.N. about household size, we can estimate that he’s hitting about eight million households per hour on Christmas Eve. If even a third of these houses leave him out a small glass of sherry, he’s drinking more booze in one night than Andre the Giant managed in his entire life. Still, that’s not entirely untraditional: The Dutch festival Sinterklaasfeest, which took place in the Middle Ages and was a precursor to modern Christmas, involved mass public drunkenness. Early American Christmases involved getting hammered, too, with people wearing masks and going door-to-door making demands — it was all pretty raucous.
Oh, something else Santa loves that parents might not approve of? Tripping balls on shrooms. His use of reindeer is thought to symbolize the taking of fly agaric — a hallucinogenic fungus so potent you can get high off another user’s piss.
Lie #3: The Coca-Cola Company Pretty Much Invented Santa
Every year you’ll be presented with this fire-roasted chestnut — “Santa wore green until Coke turned him red!” — by the kind of smug asshole who begins and ends every sentence with “actually.” But actually, it’s not true, actually. All the fundamental elements of Santa — the red and while cloak, the beard, the elf helpers, the reindeer, the sleigh — were already there: Artist Thomas Nast had previously established him in the popular consciousness as wearing red, which is where Coca-Cola-endorsed artist Haddon Sundblom got the idea from in the first place. All in all, Santa’s a mixture of the real historical figure Saint Nicholas and various European pagan/folk traditions, just with the booze/shrooms/abduction elements (partially) removed, and added polar bears.
Lie #4: It’s Your Dad
It probably isn’t your dad putting those gifts under the tree — it’s far more likely to be your mom. Women do the vast majority of the shopping, organization and emotional labor associated with Christmas every year, while men just think they do, mentally inflating their own contributions. A 2013 YouGov survey in the U.K. found that washing up was the only task that men in heterosexual couples did more of than women, with nodding off and drinking a lot being the only other categories in which men got more involved. Mommy shouldn’t be kissing Santa Claus — Santa Claus should be making a fucking effort.
Lie #5: Santa Lives At The North Pole
If he does, he should really think about moving. There’s no land at the North Pole, just a constantly shifting mass of ice, which won’t be there much longer. Between the effects of greenhouse gases and soot deposits, average temperatures in the Arctic are up to 7 degrees higher than they were 50 years ago, and the thing with polar ice melting is, it self-perpetuates: When it’s all frozen it reflects light away, but when it melts and reveals water, gravel banks or land, more heat is absorbed, making the whole thing worse.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, unless emissions are drastically reduced, by the end of the century, there’ll be no ice in the Arctic in summer at all, something that hasn’t been the case for at least 700,000 years.
We’ve killed Santa. God curse us, every one.