Clean up on Aisle six…
The other day, sometime right around Christmas Day, I overheard a few women speaking about Santa Claus while I stood carefully choosing among the Oreos, the fudge strips and the mint milanos in aisle six. There discussion was focused on what skin color and race that Santa Claus is. All three vehemently agreed that Santa Claus is white. And then they started talking about Jesus Christ and agreed that he too was a white man. I almost dropped my cookies.
These are things most folks usually never stop to think about or discuss. We simply go about our daily business accepting the images that the media and toy companies throw into our path. But have you ever stopped to wonder about this? Is Santa Claus a Caucasian? And what about the man called Jesus Christ? What shade of skin did he have? And more importantly, does it matter and if so, why? Nope, these are generally topics that shouldn’t be discussed, because what if we disagree? Or what if we learn something that doesn’t fit with the preconceived notions we have so comfortably accustomed ourselves to. Gasp!
What color is he exactly?
So, let’s take a logical approach and avoid emotions and assumptions. First of all, has anyone out there ever actually seen Santa Claus in person? I mean the REAL Santa, not his helpers who are photographed with your kids at the mall every year. Okay, I thought not. And has anyone actually ever seen Jesus Christ in person? Right. Me neither. So, if all we’ve ever “seen” are artist renderings, how can we know for sure what they actually look like?
Let’s start with Santa Claus. A much easier topic to discuss for reasons that all grown ups know. For the record, me personally, I haven’t ever given up on the child like notion. Call me delusional, but REAL is indeed in the eye of the beholder. So regardless of my silly magical fantasies, Santa Claus has typically been depicted as a white male. What’s interesting is that Santa is depicted around the world, answering to various different names, from Pere Noel and Hoteiosho to Ded Moros and Babbo Natale. In each and every culture, guess what skin color old Father Christmas has? Exactly. In Japan, he is Japanese. In Russia, he is Russian and so on and so forth. Imagine that, each culture depicts Santa Claus in a way that they can most relate to. Thus explaining the three white ladies in the cookie aisle. Were they right? I suppose from their perspective, they were. Were they equipped with a broader world view and understanding of how others perceive things? Not so much.
Santa can be colored with whichever Crayola you choose. Me? I choose green. Imagine a Santa Claus who swoops around once a year collecting recyclables, saving endangered species and mending the whole in the ozone layer while spreading good will and cheer. Which shade of green? Crayola tells me I can choose forest green, mountain green, jungle green, fern, pine green, sea green, tropical rain forest or
screamin’ green. I think Crayola has the right idea. They should also add Mother Earth Green and Eco-Smart Green. Instead of worrying about what color Santa Claus is, perhaps we should be more worried about what he represents. My Green Santa will not ask, “Have you been naughty or nice?” Instead he will ask, “Have you been naughty or Eco-Wise?” Dishonest politicians, polluters, and poachers will certainly receive coal in their stockings.
And what about Jesus?
Now, back to the more difficult topic. Jesus Christ. Was Jesus caucasian? Biblical scholars say that he was not. Jesus was from Galilee, meaning he would look like an average Palestinian of today. And he was Jewish. Go ahead and have some fun googling some images of Palestinian Jews. Dark features. Deep olive skin tone. Hairy. Long nose. Black hair. Sorry ladies. While I do agree that Chips Ahoy are indeed the best bag of pre-packaged chocolate chip cookies out there, the only white thing about Jesus was his robes. And just for fun, in my new coloring book, I’m making Him green too. I think He would like that. Now go hug your family.