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圣诞老人的由来

2006-04-30 10:24

  The original Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, was born in the ancient southeastern Turkish town of Lycia early in the fourth century. His generosity was legend, and he was particularly fond of children. We know this primarily through Roman accounts of his patronage of youth, which eventually led to his becoming the patron saint of children. Throughout the Middle Ages, and well beyond, he was referred to by many names none of them Santa Claus.

  Children today would not at all recognize the St. Nick who brought gifts to European children hundreds of years ago except perhaps for his cascading white beard. He made his rounds in full red-and-white bishop's robes, complete with twin peaked miter and crooked crozier. He was pulled by no fleet footed reindeer, but coaxed in indolent donkey. And he arrived not late on Christmas Eve, but on his Christian feast day, December 6. The gifts he left beside the hearth were usually small: fruit, nuts, hard candies, wood and clay figurines.

  During the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century, St. Nicholas was banished from most European countries. Replacing him were more secular figures, who in general were not at center stage at that point in history……The Dutch kept the St. Nicholas tradition alive. As the "protector of sailors," St. Nicholas graced the prow of the first Dutch ship that arrived in America. And the first church built in New York City was named after him. The Dutch brought with them to the New World two Christmas items that were quickly Americanized.

  In sixteenth century Holland, children placed wooden shoes by the hearth the night of St. Nicholas's arrival. The shoes were filled with straw, a meal for the saint's gift laden donkey. In return, Nicholas would insert a small treat into each clog. In America, the shoe was replaced with the stocking, hung by the chimney.

  The Dutch spelled St. Nicholas "Saint Nikolass," which in the New World became "Sinterklass". later changed to "Santa Claus".

  Much of modern day Santa Claus lore, including the reindeer drawn sleigh, originated in America. Dr. Clement Clarke Moore composed "The Night Before Christmas" in 1822, to read to his children on Christmas Eve. The poem might have remained privately in the Moore family if a friend had not mailed a copy of it (without authorial attribution) to a newspaper and became part of the Santa legend.

  It was in America that Santa put on weight. The rosy-cheeked, roly-poly Santa is credited to the influential nineteenth-century cartoonist Thomas Nast. From 1863 until 1886, Nast created a series of Christmas drawings for Harper's Weekly. These drawings, executed over twenty years, exhibit a gradual evolution in Santa from the pudgy, diminutive, elf-like creature of Dr. Moore's immortal poem to the bearded, potbellied, life-size bell ringer familiar on street corners across America today. Nast's cartoons also showed the world how Santa spent his entire year constructing toys, checking on children's behavior, reading their requests for special gifts. His images were incorporated into the Santa lore.

  Santa is known throughout the world in many different names, such as:

  Saint Nikolaas (Sinter Klaas), from the Dutch Father Christmas, from the English Kris Kringle, from the Germans Befana, from the Italians Bobouschka, from the Russians (a grand motherly figure instead of a male)

  圣诞老人的传说在数千年前的斯堪的纳维亚半岛即出现。北欧神话中司智慧,艺术,诗词,战争的奥丁神,寒冬时节,骑上他那八脚马坐骑驰骋于天涯海角,惩恶扬善,分发礼物。与此同时,其子雷神着红衣以闪电为武器与冰雪诸神昏天黑地恶战一场,最终战胜寒冷。据异教传说,圣诞老人为奥丁神后裔。也有传说称圣诞老人由圣·尼古拉而来,所以圣诞老人也称St.Nicholas.因这些故事大多弘扬基督精神,其出处,故事情节大多被淡忘,然而圣诞老人却永驻人们精神世界。

  每年圣诞日,圣诞老人骑在白羊星座上,圣童手持圣诞树降临人间,随着世事变迁,作家和艺术家开始把圣诞老人描述成我们今日熟悉的着红装,留白胡子的形象。同时不同的国度和文化对圣诞老人也有了不同的解释。在德国,传说他扮成圣童把坚果和苹果放在孩子们鞋里。他乘双轮马车四处漫游,观察人们的行为,尤其是小孩,如果表现好,将会得到苹果、坚果、糖等诸多奖品。坏孩子则得一鞭子。家长们灵机一动纷纷采用此传说来鼓励孩子们听话。大大超过了新年,成为一个全民的节日。圣诞老人已经成为圣诞节最受喜爱的象征和传统。他赶 着驯鹿,拉着装满玩具和礼物的雪橇挨家挨户给每个孩子送礼物的快乐老精灵的形象已深深地留在人们的记忆中。

  11世纪末来自意大利的宗教士兵将Nicholas圣人的遗物带回意大利,并在港口城市Bari建造了一座教堂来纪念他。很快世界各地的基督教徒纷至沓来朝圣这位圣人。这些朝圣者将圣人Nicholas的故事带回他们的本土,所以有关圣诞老人的传说在各个国家都各具特色。

  12世纪欧洲出现了圣人Nicholas纪念日,以互赠礼物和慈善活动为主。德国、法国、荷兰则将12月6日作为宗教纪念日,给孩子和穷人们赠送礼物。

  荷兰殖民者来到美洲时,将他们的Sintirklass主教也带了去,Sintirklass身着红袈裟,骑着一匹白马。Sintirklass的美国形象后来逐渐演变成一个快乐的老精灵。起初美国作家华盛顿.欧文在他的喜剧《纽约的历史》中将他描述成一个又圆又胖的荷兰老人。1823年,诗人Clement Moore在他的诗歌《St.Nicholas印象》中继续将Sintirklass/Saint Nicholas的形象戏剧化,这就是各位在本篇开头看到的圣诞老人。

  19世纪60年代卡通制作者Thomas Nash画了一幅胖胖的、慈祥的圣诞老人作为《Harper的一周》的插图。这个圣诞老人的形象开始深深地扎根于美国人民的脑海中。随着时间的推移,圣诞老人的形象传回欧洲,传到南美洲,传遍世界各地。

  许多国家都保存了他们自己有关圣诞老人的风俗和传说。在荷兰的传说中,圣诞老人Sintirklass还带了一个叫Black Peter的助手,乘着一艘船于12月6日来到。他带着一本大书,书中描述了所有荷兰小孩在过去一年中的表现。表现好的小孩就送礼物给他们,不好的小孩便让他的助手带走。

  德国的圣诞老人也带着一个叫做Knecht Ruprecht、Krampus或Pelzebock的助手,肩上背着个装着礼物的大袋子,手上拿着一根棍子。好孩子可收到他的礼物,顽皮的孩子却要给教训几棍子。

  意大利的圣诞老人叫La Befana ;法国的圣诞老人叫Father Christmas或Pere Noel ;瑞士的圣诞老人叫Christkindl或Christ Child;斯勘的纳维亚地区的圣诞人叫julenisse 或 juletomte ;而英国的圣诞老人和法国一样也叫Father Christmas(圣诞之父),他的形象比其它圣诞老人更庄严,更清瘦一些。北美的圣诞老人便是乘着驯鹿拉的雪橇来给孩子们送礼物的。

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