The Real Father Christmas
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In the modern era Father Christmas' costume and that of Santa Claus are one and the same. Red trousers and jacket lined with white fur all topped off with similarly decorated elfin hat. Father Christmas's traditional costume however is far more splendid and noble.

In nearly all traditional depictions of Father Christmas he is dressed in a long robe often hooded but always of considerable length and grandeur. The fur that lines the robe is sometime white like that of Santa but can equally be of any other colour. The colour of the robe is incredibly varied according to depiction red, yellow, brown, blue are all very common. Green however seems to be significantly more popular than these other colours, a dark woodland green reflecting Father Christmas's origins as a spirit of the forest come to life to spread the joy and message of Christmas.

The entire outfit was either completed by the inclusion of a fur hood or a large crown of every green foliage. Especially popular were holy, ivy and the elusive mistletoe. All have special significance. The every green plant was seen as symbol of ever lasting life, at the turn of the year when the land seemed to “die” this was an important reminder of the return of life to the land with the return of the sun. Likewise the Holy tree was particularly significant to Christian symbolism, reminiscent of Christ's crown of thorns, the red berries representing the blood of the saviour. Ivy was often used as a symbol of friendship or joy, the joy of the Christmas message and joy of the season. Mistletoe is altogether more ancient a symbol again of life from death, a plant than clings to trees that appear quite dead in Winter, it's berries a reminder of the very source of new life.

All in all Father Christmas's costume was far more than just a jolly colourful outfit but layered with symbolic meaning that go back through the ages.

Mark Harandon.

Father Christmas Picture.

Green Father Christmas.
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