Santa Con

Christmas is comprised of many things. Families setting aside their busy schedules and sitting down. A sweating ham resting on a platter sitting on the table top. Wrapped gifts. And, of course, the bringer of those gifts, Santa Claus. However, for some people, Santa Claus doesn’t only make an appearance when the days become short and the temperature drops. He also has his very own convention to call home.

SantaCon was founded in the mid-90s by a group of San Francisco street performers as a way to celebrate the season in a uniquely off-beat manner. The first SantaCon consisted of guerilla street theatre performances, pranks, and capped off with a surreal parade of Santas in various states of dress and physical fitness.

That first meeting spread rapidly. The novelty of seeing a multitude of Santas cavorting around town was reinforced by the fun of a carnival-esque atmosphere and the extensive coverage given to early SantaCons, the novelist Chuck Palahniuk writing about the experience in several instance, spread awareness about the convention.

Today the standard SantaCon involves a large number of people dressed as Santa Claus, although a certain naughtiness in alteration of aid costume is encouraged. A good deal of alcohol is also involved in the day’s event with the convention attendees generally basing their operations at several bars. Calling the event a convention is misleading since that can imply a dreary tradeshow floor with bad fluorescent lighting. Most of SantaCon takes place in the bars and in the streets.

Performances of Christmas carols, often sauced up with colorful language, is added to the giving of gifts to strangers by attendees. A good approximation is that SantaCon is simply a St. Patrick’s Day parade for the holidays.

Yet, SantaCon isn’t just about drinking and pulling pranks. Organizers claim that the event is a rejection of the droll and commercialized Christmas season and an embrace of the merrier and absurd side of the holiday, giving people a chance to unwind rather than stress over gifts and dinners.

Iconic Christmas Films

Everyone has that tradition that they follow every year. For some, like myself, it involves crowding around the television with family and watching their favorite holiday movie under comfortable blankets. And seeing as there is no shortage of Christmas movies out there, the hardest part comes down to picking which one to watch. What always helps though is knowing that the classics can never steer you wrong, that much is always certain.

A film for the whole family to enjoy, right down to the little ones all wrapped up in their footie pajamas and clutching their stuffed animals, is How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Running for only 26 minutes, this book-turned-animated-movie was created by one of the greatest minds for children books, Dr. Seuss. A story that is simple and to the point, it’s not hard to see why this 1966 movie classic has captured the hearts of so many generations. Not to mention it’s extremely difficult to go wrong when you have Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger, singing the infamous song “You’re A Mean One, Mister Grinch” or the legendary film actor, Boris Karloff, bringing life to the Grinch himself.

Or how about going back one year for the treasured, A Charlie Brown Christmas? The name of Charles M. Schulz is no stranger to anyone who has grown up with the Peanuts comics printed in the Sunday paper. Here is another opportunity for grandparents, parents, and kids alike to enjoy when they watch this piece of holiday spirit. This is another short film at 25 minutes but the length of a movie does not make it what it is; it is the story of learning the spirit of Christmas for what it is. It also helps that the musical score is composed by none other than Vince Guaraldi, a composer behind all the soundtracks for the Charlie Brown films.

Miracle on 34th Street is a movie that will warm your heart and remind you that no one is ever too old to believe. When the original mall-Santa is found drunk and completely unreliable, an old gentleman by the name of Kris Kringle is taken in to fill the position. And with commercialism running wildly rampant, people easily forget just what it means to celebrate Christmas. This is the lesson that Kris Kringle hopes to teach a Macy’s executive named Doris Walker as her daughter, Susan, sees that perhaps the story of Santa Claus may not be a silly story after all.

And during this time of hope and cheer, there are still some who may lose their hope and faith when times are looking grim. For one such fellow, George Bailey, he sees everything he has worked so hard to preserve in his hometown begin to fall apart. He blames himself and starts wondering if it would be better for all if he simply ceased to exist. It’s a Wonderful Life was released back in 1946 and has since become one of the biggest Christmas movie icons to date. Witnessing a man struggle with his own inner turmoil, while his friends and loved ones want only for him to forgive himself. Their love for him manifests into a guardian angel who, in turn, shows George what life would be like for those in a world without him.

When in doubt, though, if you haven’t any idea what movie to settle on, you can never go wrong with A Christmas Carol. Originally a classic tale written by Charles Dickens, over the decades the novella has been adapted to various versions made for movies, television, radio, and theater. To date, the most recent movie rendition was released in 2009, a computer animated film starring Jim Carrey as the voice of the famous bah-humbug of a man by the name of Ebenezer Scrooge, as well as the three ghosts, by Disney. For a family viewing, I would recommend either The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992) staring Kermit the Frog and his pals, or Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983), which is filled with recognizable Disney characters. While those two are geared towards younger audiences, these are the ones that can be enjoyed by different generations because of the nostalgic feel that come with their versions in their story-telling.

Mrs. Claus: From Dutiful Wife to Spunky Modern Sidekick

Although our modern Santa Claus had a long evolution from the 3rd century bishop, Saint Nicolas, to the secular, jolly old elf of the 21st century, Mrs. Santa Claus seems to have sprung to life unexpectedly. Not based on myth or tradition, she simply appears at Santa’s side in popular writings by American authors in the mid-1800s.

The first mention of a Mrs. Santa Claus occurs in the writings of James Rees in 1849. Although his story features a couple disguised as an old man and his wife delivering wonderful gifts on Christmas Eve, the story ends with the characters not being Mr. and Mrs. Claus after all. But the idea is planted and soon begins to grow.

Over the next few decades Mrs. Claus is presented in stories as the supportive wife, handling the list of who’s been naughty or nice, or keeping Santa and his elves well fed. It wasn’t until 1889 that Mrs. Claus takes on a bit of personality of her own in the poem “Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride.” The endearing Mrs. Claus convinces Santa to take her with him on Christmas Eve. She tends the reindeer, but sadly, doesn’t get to deliver any toys! Always the helper, she mends a stocking for a poor little boy so Santa can fill it with presents.

For years, she continued to be portrayed as merely a background character, there to support Santa Claus in his exhaustive work. Mrs. Claus is often shown as a rotund, gray-haired, kindly woman, willing to selflessly help Santa and his elves in their workshop at the North Pole, feeding them her delicious meals, and making sure they are safely prepared for their long journey. Although this is the most common portrayal of Mrs. Claus, more recent stories and movies have featured Mrs. Claus in a variety of roles, showing her to be a resourceful and energetic woman who could almost handle Christmas Eve on her own!

Children’s books and television daringly featured Mrs. Santa as the main character. Books focusing on Mrs. Santa have been written since 1914, and television has had a great time with Mrs. Santa. She’s been everything from a vampire to the spunky main character of the 1996 Hallmark special, Mrs. Santa Claus.

Bringing Mrs. Santa Claus to Life!

Today, Mrs. Claus has a wide choice of stylish or traditional outfits to wear on Christmas Eve. Whether you are seeking a classic, warm-hearted Mrs. Claus costume, looking like she just stepped out of the North Pole kitchen, or a modern Ms. Claus who is ready to knock old Santa’s socks off when he returns from his journey, there is a costume available for every taste. She can be naughty or nice!

From the grandmotherly companion making sure that Santa wears his winter scarf to the vixen who first made Santa fall in love, Frankel’s Costume has the perfect Mrs. Santa Claus costume for your spectacular Christmas Eve. Bring Mrs. Claus to life!  Have her deliver the presents at the office party or your club’s Christmas celebration. Thrill the children early on Christmas Eve with a classic Mrs. Claus outfit, then delight Mr. Claus later by slipping into one of our sensational Mrs. Claus outfits, unheard of fashions when she first met Santa in the 1800s!

Be sure to check out our full line of Mrs. Santa Claus costumes. Dressed in the daring Sleigh Belle costume, you’ll be the star of the office party or the temptation that keeps Mr. Claus at home for the evening. In the  Mrs. Claus costume, you’ll look like you just arrived from the North Pole with a tray of cookies hot from the oven. Christmas Gift has you ready to be unwrapped for a delightful Christmas Eve surprise!

Brighten the Season with the Perfect Music for Your Christmas Party

You want your Christmas party to be a hit, and picking just the right music can help set the mood, whether your party is a subdued, formal event, a casual gathering of friends, or a raucous party. With the wide variety of Christmas music out there, there is no need to rely on the same old renditions of stodgy carols. No matter what the theme of your party or the tastes of your guests, there is a set of tunes that is perfect for the event. Consider some of the music below for your perfect Christmas party playlist.

Is your party a formal affair? There are few pieces that suggest the season with more taste, warmth and class than Handel’s Messiah.

You can also find string quartet or choral arrangements of Christmas hymns such as “O, Holy Night,” “What Child is This,” and others. Look for a CD like “Christmas Adagios,” which contains performances of pieces by Vivaldi, Franz Gruber, and Mozart, along with many other composers. One of the advantages of “Christmas Adagios” is its long playtime — over two hours — which can help cover a large segment of the evening, and simplify your music selections.

Another high class option is to choose jazz arrangements of popular and classic Christmas songs. “Louis Armstrong’s Christmas,” which contains performances by Eartha Kit, Duke Ellington, and other jazz and big band greats. Other recommendations to round out the music selections include: “Ella Fitzgerald Wishes You a Swingin’ Christmas,” Ray Charles’ “The Spirit of Christmas” and the compilation: “Have Yourself a Jazzy Little Christmas.” Brian Setzer’s “Christmas Comes Alive” is a relatively new album with that same old time jazz feel.

One unusual option is to seek out a World Music theme for your Christmas party playlist. Putumayo puts out a Christmas compilation each year with a range of artists from all over the world. Another great choice is Pink Martini’s “Joy to the World.”This CD is full of eclectic choices, featuring performances from such diverse musicians in languages including: Ukranian, Spanish, and Chinese.

There have also been plenty of rock music additions to the Christmas music canon. Fans of southern rock, punk, blues, and other rock and roll subgenres can find compilations to set the holiday mood. Several rock musicians have released entire Christmas and holiday themed albums, as well. Classic rock fans will enjoy Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Christmas Time Again.”You can’t go wrong with Steve Lukather’s “SantaMental”to please guitar god fans. The album is a lot of fun, with guests performances from musicians like: Slash, Steve Vai, and Edgar Winter.

One of the best Christmas party music strategies would be to mix up the tunes a bit so that everyone hears a bit of what they like. Play one or two jazzy pieces, followed by a traditional carol, then a bit of rock, for instance. Don’t forget to include music that does not strictly adhere to a Christmas theme, as well. By the time Christmas parties roll around, some people feel that they have already experienced an overload of Christmas music, and the everyday tunes will be a nice change of pace throughout the evening. No matter what sort of music you choose to set the festive holiday mood, guests will appreciate the special attention and the atmosphere created by your Christmas tunes.

Santa

Ho, Ho, Ho!

The familiar  figure of a jolly Santa Claus is everywhere during Christmas time: on Christmas cards, ubiquitously used in advertising, in film, and live in shopping malls and town squares. Who exactly is this character we all know and love, and where did he originate?

The jolly old elf we all recognize as the delightful deliverer of Christmas gifts to good, and sometimes naughty, children has a long history covering three continents and stretching all the way back to 280 AD. Today’s version of Santa Claus, dressed in warm red clothing trimmed with white fur, a long white beard, rotund and laughing, would be a strange vision to people several centuries ago, and we would certainly not recognize the ancient version that eventually evolved into today’s Santa Claus!

The historic roots of the Santa Claus myth stretch back to the 3rd and 4th century Turkey and the monk St. Nicholas. Born in 280 AD near what is now Myra, Turkey, St Nicholas is believed to have given away his vast inheritance, traveling the countryside giving assistance to the poor and sick. Although little factual information is known about his life, he did became a bishop at a young age and must have been a kind and generous man, as so many mythical stories tell of his enormous good deeds.

Over the centuries, he grew in popularity and was revered as a protector of children. By Renaissance times, he was one of the most popular saints in all of Europe, especially in Holland where his feast day on December 6th was joyously celebrated.

From Holland to their new home in the United States, Dutch settlers brought the tradition of Sinter Klaas, the Dutch form of Saint Nicholas’ name. By the late 1700s and early 1800s, he was a familiar character in New York where the Dutch settled. Sinter Klaas quickly evolved into the Americanized name Santa Claus and was portrayed as a rather stout Dutch sailor with a fur trimmed green coat and pipe. This imagery is quite a transformation from a thin, yet generous bishop from ancient times!

Washington Irving was one of the first to connect Santa Claus with Christmas. His descriptions were the inspiration for many writers and illustrators in the 1800s who pushed the image of Santa Claus much closer to the well-known, modern vision of a jolly, fat character, all dressed in red, delivering presents to children on Christmas Eve by slipping down the chimney.

By the early 1800s, stores began promoting Christmas shopping, and by the 1840s, newspapers joined in the holiday shopping spree with separate sections for advertisements. The first Santa appeared in a store in 1841, but just a model of him! It didn’t take long before stores featured a live Santa Claus to lure children and families to their holiday promotions.

Although ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas was published in 1822, giving rise to the “jolly old elf” description of Santa, it wasn’t until 1881, when the political cartoonist Thomas Nast created a cartoon for Harper’s Weekly, that the modern version of Santa Claus was solidified. Complete with a sack of toys, dressed in bright red clothing trimmed with white fur, Nast’s version of Santa Claus stuck in the popular mind and has endured for 130 years.

The vision of Santa Claus, joyously sipping a Coke on Christmas Eve, has been an enduring icon of Christmas time since the early 1930s when the ads first appeared. The artist Fred Mizen premiered the first Coca Cola ad in the Saturday Evening Post. Haddon Sundblom took over as artist in 1931 with a much more enjoyable version of Santa, and continued to create the ads until 1964. Each successive year, a new portrait of Santa appeared during the holiday season, always a happy fellow with rosary cheeks, dressed in his fur trimmed red suit in the tradition of the Sundblom ads. If Santa could advertise Coke, he could also advertise everything from cars to razor blades!

The tradition of Santa Claus films reaches all the way back to the 1890s and continues to this day. Santa has been portrayed as a hero, an imposter, and a mischievous elf. Every Christmas, families gather to watch their favorite movies starring Santa Claus.

What would Christmas be without published letters to Santa in the local paper, Christmas Eve anchormen and women tracking his trek across the globe, and the Post Office who delivers the millions of hopeful letters? You’ll have plenty of luck finding your Santa here at our store. Don’t forget Rudolph, we have him too!

Enjoy Being a Christmas Elf

Christmas elves are seen as “Santa’s Helper” and today, you may find a traditional Elf Costume in green and red felt or you may find a more daring outfit for adult Christmas parties.  It is fun to check out the history of being a Christmas elf if you have not already studied it.  Here are some fun facts about Christmas elves from days past.

Elven History, Lore and Mischief

There are other stories about elves being not only mischievous but also that they were barbarians which is nearly impossible to imagine. These little pointed ear creatures are devilish and hide out when they think they are going to be seen.  They treat everyone well unless they are treated badly. No one person can claim to know where elves live, the elf lore states that these creatures were originally part of German pagan beliefs.  These little creatures were also believed to protect homes. The challenge was that if you treated them well, they provided good things for you and your family; while if you treated an elf badly then they would play tricks on you to make you wish you had not treated them poorly.There are of course those who believe that elves love to play pranks. This is likely true though they are more likely to play pranks on those who do not believe that they must behave themselves and treat elves well.  Somewhere on the Korvatunturi Mountain in Finland is where the Christmas elves seem to make their home. This of course remains largely a mystery since it is a well-kept secret.

Christmas Elves and Elven Names

There is always great speculation regarding the role than an elf plays at Christmas time. Some people believe that the elves help create toys, help deliver toys and even help keep track of who is nice and who is naughty.  There are even those who believe that Santa’s elves help keep the sleigh running well and take care of the reindeer.

Many different names are bandied about for the Christmas elves. There are those who claim they know exactly how many elves that Santa has as well, but of course since they are never seen, it is highly unlikely that anyone knows who all of the elves are.

Some of the elves that are believed to be part of Santa’s workshop include those who help respond to Christmas letters and emails – these elves are the children of Gryla and Leppaludi and not only do they help with toy design, they also answer Santa’s mail.

Western names of the Christmas elves that are a help to Santa Claus are:

  • Guardian of the secret village Pepper Minstix
  • The Naughty & Nice list is taken care of by Alabaster Snowball
  • The magic toy-making machine was invented by Bushy Evergreen
  • Sugarplum Mary helps Mrs. Claus and is in charge of sweets
  • Wunorse Openslae not only is believed to have designed Santa’s sleigh but also makes sure that it stays in good working order.  Wunorse also takes care of the reindeer to make sure they are ready for Christmas each year.

Elf Dress and Manners

Elves are traditionally donned in green and red attire befitting their station.  This is especially true around the holidays. However, there are those who have a bit of extra mischief – and since elves may be male or female it is not uncommon to see them acting up and dressing up for their mates.  Elves are creatures who believe that they can find their true love only one time in their lives and they make the most of the courtship process.  Elves marry young and stay married throughout their lives – an interesting catch since they are immortal as well.

These impish little creatures have worked their way into our folklore and have a long and rich history.  Have some fun this holiday season and be one of Santa’s elves. See what elf fits your style here at Frankel’s!