Santa Claus and smoking are making headlines this holiday season thanks to a newly released, edited and now-controversial version of the 1822 poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” according to Yahoo News. The original poem (formally known as “The Visit from St. Nicholas) describes Saint Nick with a “stump of pipe he held tight in his teeth/And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.” Now, thanks to author Pamela McColl, who spent $200,000 of her own money, that line has been deleted in a self-published version.
But the famous (or newly infamous) poem is hardly the first depiction of Santa Claus enjoying a smoke. There are scores of vintage advertisements that feature Santa Claus thoroughly enjoying cigarettes, cigars and pipes.
According to Stanford University’s School of Medicine, which has a research group that studies the impact of tobacco advertising:
Cherished icons can be found in a number of tobacco ads. Indeed, the tobacco industry has made every effort to associate itself with noble institutions, patriotic themes, and cultural icons that connote respectability. Among the innumerable examples are George Washington, Mt. Rushmore, British royalty, the US flag, the Statue of Liberty, soldiers, astronauts, and even the beloved family pet. Even more prevalent were cultural symbols which brought to mind happy times and celebration, particularly Santa Claus.
Stanford’s website includes numerous examples of vintage cigarettes and tobacco ads featuring Santa Claus — as a smoker, womanizer, lech, misogynist and enabler.
Take a look at some of them right here:
All images from the collection of Stanford University and used with permission
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