The African American Santa celebrates Kwanzaa, a celebration unique to African Americans which focuses on African values of family, community responsibility, commerce and self-improvement. Kwanzaa does not take the place of Christmas. It is simply a time of reaffirming the ancestors and culture of the African American people. Kwanzaa means “first fruits of the harvest.” Santa holds a basket filled with these fruits, which symbolize harvest festivals where families gather to celebrate with joys and thanksgiving. The African American Santa carries a “Kinara”, which holds seven candles in the traditional colors of black, red and green. Each candle symbolizes one of the seven guiding principals that are observed from December 26th through January 1st. These principals affirm the values of Kwanzaa and strive to unite and strengthen family bonds. Kwanzaa is a beautiful holiday that has much to teach everyone.
In many small villages of Europe, the arrival of Father Christmas is announced by the loud ringing of his bell. Sometimes the entrance to the village has a little arbor where the bell hangs. When children hear the clanging sound, they know Father Christmas is coming to their home to question them about their behavior over the past year. As Father Christmas goes to each door to question the children, they are filled with trembling and anticipation. If they were naughty, there will be consequences, but if they have been good, the sack is opened and delightful surprises burst forth. Fortunately, for most children the bell signifies good things to come from the stern but kind Bell Ringer Father Christmas.
The carousel, from the french work "carrousel", meaning merry-go-round, is an amusement ride originally called "flying horses" as the first carousels contained carved animals that were suspended on a pole and whirled the riders around. It wasn't until the industrial revolution that the animals became grounded and the ride became mechanized. The oldest carousel, built in the 1700's, is renovated and in Hanau-Williamsbad, Germany and the oldest operating carousel is in Prague. Although early carousels depicted horses as the figures that spun around, other animals were often used, including moths, butterflies and large safari animals. While many countries were making carousels, it was German, Gustav Dentzel, who brought a carousel to Pennsylvania in the 1800's where it was an instant success. Dentzel eventually settled in Germantown, PA, where he did wood carving and created carousels. Eventually, craftsmen from other countries brought their expertise of carousel constructions to America where its popularity has continued to this day.
It's no wonder that our Carousel Santa is enjoying this playful pastime, an amusement ride that has been delighting children and grown-ups for centuries.
The first semblance of the bicycle was a wooden version invented 1817 by a Baron von Drais. By the 1870, a metal bicycle was able to be designed and later the pnuematic tire was applied to the bicycle by an Irish veterinarian who was trying to give his young son a more comfortable ride on his tricycle. ( Many mechanical innovations now associated with the automobile were originally invented for tricycles.) Now that comfort and safety could be had in the same package, and that package was getting cheaper as manufacturing methods improved, everyone clamored to ride the bicycle.
The bicycle was what made the Gay Nineties gay. It was a practical investment for the working man as transportation, and gave him a much greater flexibility for leisure. Ladies, heretofore consigned to riding the heavy adult size tricycles that were only practical for taking a turn around the park, now could ride a much more versatile machine and still keep their legs covered with long skirts. The bicycle craze killed the bustle and the corset, instituted "common-sense dressing" for women and increased their mobility considerably. In 1896 Susan B. Anthony said that "the bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world."
Bicycling was so popular in the 1880s and 1890s that cyclists formed the League of American Wheelman (still in existence and now called the League of American Bicyclists). The League lobbied for better roads, literally paving the road for the automobile. The bicycle is the main form of transportation for millions of people around the world. It is environmentally friends, inexpensive and efficient. It is wonderful to see our CHRISTMAS RIDE SANTA enjoying a bicycle ride, dispensing gifts as he goes his merry way.
Centuries ago, celebrating Christmas was a holy and festive break from the toil of everyday life. This was especially true in the country where villagers and hard-working farmers labored endlessly to bring food and shelter to their families. It is no wonder that these simple people welcome the joy and jubilation of the holidays. The Country Santa Claus visits the small rural towns with his wheelbarrow to help him carry his load of gifts. Bells tied to the front of the wheelbarrow announce his arrival to the children who anxiously peer out of their windows in the hopes of catching a glimpse of him. The Country Santa Claus has found a couple kittens alongside the road and knows they will be a big surprise when tucked into a child's stocking. In the country tradition of not being wasteful, Santa wears a coat made from little patches of fabric, much like those on the old patchwork quilts that country mothers make from leftover scraps. His dress is made of a favorite calico. The Country Santa Claus brings warmth and joy to country homes already filled with the smells of fresh-baked bread, laughter, hard work, love of family and love of the country life.
Books, trains, soldiers, balls, dolls and a gingerbread house peak out from the top of Santa's magic sack full of never-ending toys. He sifts through his bag, selecting which toys to leave at each house, accompanied by his little helper, a young deer who has come out of the forest to be with Santa on his long night's journey. The little deer knows his way through the woods very well and will guide Santa to his destinations this Christmas night.
Father Christmas of Ireland embodies the Irish spirit in his costume and the many cultural toys he carries in his bag. His image often mimics that of St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland, who always carries a Celtic cross. Father Christmas of Ireland wears a beautiful coat embroidered with Irish braid, and his belt buckle is a replica of an antique bronze brooch. He carries books by Irish authors, toy cottages, candies, bells and other goodies in his pockets, while the elegant Great Dane, a breed famous in Ireland, stands by his side, a companion to guide him on his Christmas journey.
Pat & Joe Doyle of Clayton, IN gave us this very unique idea for a new Santa and Pipka was thrilled to design it!
"We know that Honey Bees are an important insect in all of our lives. Bee keepers are fighting to save the honey bee, so they will continue to provide all of us with honey, along with pollination of fruits, vegetables and flowers. Santa Claus could wear an old fashion outfit, like bee keepers worn in the olden days, now the outfits are pure white. Santa is not alone in his bee keeping duties; the friendly little bear cub has come along to do some taste testing. Honeybees are not native to the United States. They are European in origin, and were brought to North America by the early settlers. Honeybees are not aggressive by nature, and will not sting unless protecting their hive from an intruder or are provoked. They represent a highly organized unit, with various bees having very distinct roles during their lifetime. The queen bee can live for several years, unlike the worker bees; they live for only six weeks during the busy summer and four to eight months during the winter. The honeybee hive is perennial. Although quite inactive during the winter, the honeybee survives the winter months by clustering for warmth.
The Irish Christmas Santa carries a very special Christmas sign reminiscent of the beautiful old ironwork signs that prevail in Ireland, which reads, “Nollaig Shona Duit”, and means “Happy Christmas Day”’ the most common Christmas greeting. A cape to ward off blustery Irish winds keeps warm as does his cable knit Irish sweater. In Santa’s sack we find some Irish goodies; lucky coins, fishing boat, a large shamrock, jar of orange marmalade, book of Irish proverbs and a sheep rocker. Santa stands before Irish stone fences which are prevalent all around the countryside. This jolly Irish man, with a twinkle in his eyes, will make sure that everyone has a “Nollaig Sona Duit
Twirling, jumping and sliding on the ice, the Joy of Skating Santa is having a great time! Oh, what a beautiful day to be out in the crisp winter air and taking time to enjoy the leisure sport of skating on a nearby pond. Santa in his warm coat and mittens is having a good time, yet he is also ready to deliver a holiday tree and gifts to a family.
Norway, one of the oldest countries in Europe, is populated by a hard working people, decedents of Vikings who once ruled much of northern Europe. Situated close to the Arctic and surrounded by the Baltic and Norwegian Sea, Norway, is a self-sufficient country steeped in cultural values and folksy traditions while at the same time it greets the 21st century with open arms. Harsh and long frigid winters have allowed many mountainous villages to remain comparatively isolated, thereby insuring the continuance of centuries old crafts, customs and beliefs. One of these beliefs is in the Nisse, a mischievous little elf who, through his deeds, keeps everyone on his toes, especially at Christmas time. A bowl of porridge is left out for the Nisse to appease him and deter him from his usual pranks. Like every Christmas, the Julenissen of Norway travels the snow covered hills and mountains to deliver the Norwegian Pine Christmas tree and gifts to children all over Norway. Santa wears a beautiful warm fur lined coat embroidered in the colorful Norwegian style. His belt buckle, handcrafted of silver, cinches his knitted tunic while fur lined elk skin boots keep his feet warm. God Jul!
A Scottish Christmas, filled with customs old and new, skits, games, food and merriments, survives the 1652 British Parliament act banning Christmas as too "pagan" and "pope-ish." Reinstated a decade later, the Scots have spent the 350 years since blending Celtic customs with modern day traditions giving Christmas holidays a special Scottish glow. Often referred to as MacNicholas, the Scottish Father Christmas, dressed in Highland costume, brings all the necessary trimmings for an authentic Scottish yuletide. His sack carries a Scotch Pine, brightly wrapped packages, a bright blue fishing boat, and a Scottish Terrier are certain to light up the eyes of a wee lad or lassie. The ubiquitous Yule log, tied to the sack and wrapped in ribbon and mistletoe, will be placed in the hearth where the fire has been rekindled with the remnants of the previous year's Yule log. Wassail is a favorite among the delicious foods and beverages served at Christmas time. This drink, consisting of ale, roast apples, eggs, sugar and spices, is stirred up for young and old alike. Tis customary to leave a meat pie and a jug of wassail for Father Christmas, much like we leave milk and cookies for Santa. MacNicholas raises his mug of wassail to toast in the season and his trusty Scottish Terrier yaps in agreement. Soon the two are off on their journey through the snow dusted mountains and valleys of Scotland.
Santa loves all animals, but there is just something so purr-fect about taking a nap with his cats. He has quite a few because, as Earnest Hemingway said, "One cat just leads to another" and he just can't seem to say "no" when a cat is in need or appears on his doorstep. Besides, what could be better than having a warm, purring body, or two, on your lap while you nap? The busy world slows down to the magical rhythm of the cat, peace sets in, and sleep is deep and refreshing. Each cat and kitten is a work of art to be admired in awe, for as a famous artist once said, “The smallest feline is a masterpiece." It seems Leonardo da Vinci knew what he was talking about. Sleep well, Santa! Pipka shares her life with her cat, Tigger. Today, Tigger is visiting Santa, perched above Santa’s left shoulder.
Throughout the ages, Santas had different names, like St Nicholas, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas. He is known as Dedushka Moroz, Grandfather Frost, in Russia. Most of the Santas that visited children in the olden days were dressed simply, in brown or black coats. With the advent of postcards and Christmas cards, artists began portraying Santa in more elaborate clothes, like this Old Russian Father Christmas. Some twenty years ago, a friend sent me a card with an old fashioned Santa on it; a reproduction from one of those old postcards. The Santa was beautiful, dressed in a brilliant coat and elaborate detail. It inspired me to paint a Santa on wood and give it to my mother for Christmas. This was the first Santa I ever painted. He became the Russian Father Christmas, Dedushka Moroz, to me because of his ornately embroidered coat, tunic and Cossack boots. This Santa, and the joy I felt painting him, spurred me on to design Santas from all over the world. Pipka
For centuries, Nicholas of Myra, St. Nicholas, has been the patron of Russia. It is claimed that Vladimir the Great, Prince of Russia, went to Constantinople in the early eleventh century to be baptized. On his return, he brought back tales of the wonder of Nicholas. Thus, Nicholas was chosen as the protector of a country that covers on sixth of the surface of the world. Many churches in Russia were dedicated to him, and his name has been a favorite for boys in every station of life from that of lowliest pheasant to the Tzar.
The Polish people are intensely traditional in their holiday celebrations and this is exemplified at Christmas time. Stories and songs are sung around a Christmas tree decorated with nuts, apples, colored paper and straw ornaments. Gifts lay wrapped beneath its boughs. Friends and family come to visit and partake in Wiglia, the traditional Christmas dinner, where often a place is left empty at the table for the Christ Child. But most important to Poles, is the true meaning of Christmas and the creche set in one of the most cherished Christmas decorations that is displayed in homes. The Santa of Poland, wearing a warm fur lined cape keeps the cold Polish winters out and goes from home to home delivering the crèche as the true symbol of Christmas, Christ's birth.
Santa is on the go again. Only this time, he is traveling all over the country to visit his loyal collectors and shopkeepers. Like many travelers, Santa just canít seem to travel "light." His suitcase is packed full, toys are stuffed into the sack on his back and Santa's "purse" is overflowingwith goodies. His one free hand is carrying a little evergreen tree, just in case he needs to set up a pretty display somewhere along the way. Santa really enjoys these trips to the many shops he visits. Children and adults wait in line for a chance to visit him and he wants to talk to each and every one of them. There are many smiles and much laughter, sharing of stories and often a hug or two. Shopkeepers fill trays with cookies and snacks to nourish the hungry travelers, and Christmas melodies fill the air. Sometimes, Santa will make a notation in a little book he carries with him, a reminder to send a child something special. He doesnít want to forget a thing! Soon it's time to say good-bye and Santa must pack up his things and be on his way to the next town or city where the next group of friends anxiously awaits him. Santa is on the go again! Watch for him. He many be coming to visit you very soon!
As we all know, Santa takes his magical sleigh ride around the world each Christmas, but what does it take to prepare for this midnight flight? You can find the answer by visiting the North Pole any other time throughout the year. There you’ll find Santa, along side his elves, making toys and scheduling production. One of Santa’s favorite wood working projects are making the children sized sleds. Always, by his feet you’ll find Santa’s loyal cat, Tigger; who sometimes jumps on Santa’s lap, when the cold winds blow open the workshop’s doors. Merry Christmas to all!
Christmas is the time to celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, and for most children around the world, it is also the time to receive a much-desired toy. The practice of gift giving is as old as the tradition of the Three Kings who brought gifts to Jesus. Yet the custom of giving children toys for Christmas has a much more recent source. The Puritans, who settled our country, did not approve of Christmas gift giving. They bestowed hand-carved arks and religious toys on their children. Ever since that time, mothers and fathers have been giving toys to their children, disguised as Santa Claus. Toy Santa's sack and arms are full of Christmas treasures. He carries so many playthings that he must stuff them in his pockets. He asked Mrs. Santa to sew pockets inside his coat for holding more toys! The Toy Santa doesn't want to disappoint anyone this Christmas. He even hangs toys from his belt to be certain that he bears the perfect gift for everyone. . . somewhere!