The Thomas Nast Santa LbNA # 37306
|Placed Date||Dec 29 2007|
Thomas Nast “invented” the image popularly recognized as Santa Claus. Nast first drew Santa Claus for the 1862 Christmas season Harper’s Weekly cover and center-fold illustration to memorialize the family sacrifices of the Union during the early and, for the north, darkest days of the Civil War. Nast’s Santa appeared as a kindly figure representing Christmas, the holiday celebrating the birth of Christ. His use of Santa Claus was melancholy, sad for the faltering Union war effort in which Nast so fervently believed, and sad for the separation of soldiers and families. When Nast created his image of Santa Claus he was drawing on his native German tradition of Saint Nicholas, a fourth century bishop known for his kindness and generosity. In the German Christian tradition December 6 was (and is) Saint Nicholas day, a festival day honoring Saint Nicholas and a day of gift giving. Nast combined this tradition of Saint Nicholas with other German folk traditions of elves to draw his Santa in 1862. The claim that Nast “invented” Santa Claus in 1862 is thus accurate, but the assertion overlooks the centuries-long antecedents to his invention.Santa Claus thrived thereafter in American culture both Christian and secular. During the Civil War, Christmas was a traditional festival celebration in the United States, although not yet a holiday. In Nast’s time Christmas was not a day when offices or factories closed; but the development of Christmas as a holiday and the use of Santa Claus as a secular symbol of gift giving removed from its Christian antecedents occurred during Nast’s lifetime. The modern American celebration of Christmas, with its commercialized gift exchanges, developed in cities, led by New York, after 1880. Nast’s images of Santa Claus were so popular that they were collected and reprinted in a book published in 1890.
From Houston, go northwest on Hwy 290 to Mueschke Rd. Go north a few miles and turn left on Draper (if you come to FM 2920 you’ve gone too far) to the southern part of Kelb Woods Nature Preserve on the left.
To the box:
Walk down the main trail to the nature center on the left. Go to the back side of the building and find the trail that has the multi-trunk tree in the middle. Go down that trail past the little green arrow sign that leads to the windmill, until you come to the trail split. Take the left path to the pond. Contine right on the trail past the pond and look for the first big pine tree on your left. Notice the several strands of barbed wire at its base. Follow the wires to the second big pine tree. You’ll find Thomas Nast’s Santa letterbox between the wire and the tree. PLEASE DON’T LET THE KIDS RETRIEVE THIS BOX. The box is held to the tree with barbed wire and there is a large roll of the stuff behind the tree. Be sure to replace the box so that the wire holds it off the ground.