Now let me be clear from the outset ... I am not terribly proud of what the US has done to the image of Santa Claus. He is used crassly to sell toys to children in department store settings. But I do think that we can all hold on to the Clement Moore image with pride. The Dutch show a certain reverence to their Sinterklass, a bishop, riding a white horse and carrying a big accounting book of children's behavior over the past year. And he also has the intriguing behavior of disappearing back to Spain long before Christmas Day itself which saves him from having to join in the crass commercialism of Christmas.There is the problem of the Zwart Piets, but I won't go there.
But the French don't seem to have the same image of Santa. For example, I was at Galerie Lafayette and saw this sad site. Somewhere near the toy department they had pulled out a naugahyde chair for Santa to sit in. He was wearing thick black glasses and seemed genuinely uncomfortable holding this baby.Miracle on 34th Street this was notAnd in more than one place I caught this version of an inflatable Santa hanging off a balcony
And then painted on the side of a building in the 11th was this