Austria exiles Saint Nick, again

It seems that even our beloved Santa Claus has been dragged into the growing world resistance to American commercial and political hegemony.


Yea indeed for Austria, where there is a campaign to throw out the fat old elf. The impulse is not really so much about putting Christ back into Christmas as it is about saving local culture and tradition, especially since only one in five people in traditionally most "Catholic Austria" attends church on sundays.

Members of the group said the Santa Claus phenomenon had exploded in the last three years. They attribute it to globalization, which brings Christmas television shows and movies to Austria, as well as to worldwide holiday marketing campaigns by American corporations.

The same trends turned Halloween, once observed here only as a day to remember the dead, into a major commercial holiday.

"Santa Claus has been used by commercial interests to generate consumption at Christmas," said Philipp Tengg, a former seminarian, who started the Pro-Christkind Association and is its chief spokesman.

Mr. Tengg noted that the modern likeness of Santa is a creation of the Coca-Cola Company, which uses the figure, conveniently dressed in Coke's red-and-white corporate colors, to sell its product in winter. Santa, it seems, is viewed here as another example of the corrosive global reach of American multinationals.

Yeah, if the campaign is succesful, this would be the guy's second sentence of exile.
The cult of St. Nicholas ebbed in Protestant parts of Europe [JAW--and even in the areas which remained Roman Catholic] after the Reformation, with the exception of Holland, which reconfigured him as kindly Sinterklass. The Dutch brought him to the New World, where the English-speaking population adopted him as Santa Claus.

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Published on December 12, 2002 12:24 PM.

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