Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Kath McCarthy, Secretary of the Oxted & District History Society, gave an illustrated talk to the Society on ‘The Man in the Red Suit’.

St. Nicholas was Bishop of Myra, in modern day Turkey.  The patron saint of sailors, children, archers and pawn-brokers, he is also much revered in Russia, who donated a statue of the saint, which stands in his home town of Demra.

News of St. Nicolas’s miracles spread to Northern Europe, where gifts were donated on 6th December.  This was in competition with Odin, who traditionally gave presents on Yuletide Eve.  Henry VIII abolished saints day celebrations in 1538 and St. Nicholas’s Day fell into disuse.  The Puritans disliked Christmas because they viewed it as a pagan feast.

In the 19th Century, Yuletide celebrations were revived, mainly by Prince Albert, assisted by Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’.  Many modern traditions come from Clement Clarke Moore’s 1823 poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’, such as stockings, a sleigh, reindeer and present giving.  However Santa’s original suit was green, not becoming red until the 1915 White Rock Beverages’ advert, quickly adopted by Coca-Cola in their advertising.  Santa’s suit has remained red ever since. 


The Man in the Red Suit by Kath McCarthy