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The Delightfully Disturbing Holiday Displays of Yesteryear

You’ll never look at Santa Claus the same way again

Ah, the holiday season. For thousands of years it’s been a time to celebrate light, love and companionship. In more recent decades, it has also been a time for well-meaning people to put up unintentionally disturbing Christmas displays—and I’m not just talking about the disturbingly sexual public displays of affection between your parents when they get too deep into the eggnog. As we celebrate all the good things about the holidays, please also enjoy these horror-show holiday decorations from a bygone era. (It’s probably bygone for a reason.)

1. This Giant Mr. and Mrs. Claus That Are Obviously Real People Trapped in Sculptures

Popular Mechanics, December 1949

Just look at Santa’s face. It’s 100 percent the face of someone who just realized he’s about to be frozen inside a giant doll for the entertainment of children. See?

2. This Inexplicable “Chimney Sweep” Made of Prunes

What a Girl Can Make and Do, 1902

This dried-plum monstrosity is a featured craft in the “Christmas Decorations” section of the 1902 book What a Girl Can Make and Do, despite literally looking like someone gave a broom to poop with a positive attitude.

3. This Time That All the Horrors of the World Came Together to Dress Up as Santa

Dry Goods Reporter, November 1908

The magazine noted that the first step to becoming this “spectacular” Santa was “to get a good mask.” Fun fact: Getting a good mask is also the first step to becoming a “spectacular” murderer!

4. These Dolls Holding a Wake For a Depressed Child

Display World, October 1957

According to Display World (a trade magazine for people who made window displays—oh, those heady days of media!), “the child is thinking of dolls,” although her expression implies that if she is thinking about dolls, it’s because dolls threatened to set her house on fire. The magazine also notes that “the toys float by on clouds of angel’s hair,” as if it’s not creepy to have a surplus of angel hair around without any angels.

5. This Santa That’s Taking a Revenge Dump in Someone’s Chimney

Dry Goods Reporter, November 1908

Never piss off a man who’s able to take a dump in every chimney in the world in one night.

6. This Child Joyfully Removing the Gifts That Make Up a Pirate’s Internal Organs

Popular Mechanics, December 1960

There’s some comfort in knowing that the pirate was already dead, since the instructions for constructing him literally call for an “impaled head”:

7. This One That Seems Fine Until You Realize the Child in the Background Appears to Be Locked Out of the House

Popular Mechanics, December 1954

“Dad, let me back inside! Someone’s taking pictures of our yard!”

8. This 40-Foot Santa Claus Head That Is Obviously the Logo for a Santa Cult

Dry Goods Reporter, November 1915

I’d mention that the Santa Claus cult was into some weird sex shit, but c’mon: all cults are into some weird sex shit.

9. This Santa With a Hook Hand

Display World, September 1964

Because nothing says “Christmas!” like the visual implication that Santa’s hands were amputated after a toy-making accident.

10. This “Walk-In Christmas Window” With a Vagina Tree

Display World, October 1957

Actually, this one is pretty nice.