Friday, December 16, 2022

Mrs. Santa Claus - The First Lady of Christmas

The amount of Christmas lore we see, hear, touch, and taste at this time of year is staggering. We've got songs about reindeer, snowmen, the 12 days of Christmas, an elf who sits on a shelf, and letters to Santa. 

Little is known about Mrs. C ... that's Mrs. Santa Claus to you and me. who, in vivid imagination, is seen baking cookies with the help of her house elves in a cozy, dainty kitchen somewhere in their North Pole abode. As Santa Claus's wife, Mrs. Claus has been imagined as a stout woman, a little on the heavier side, with grey hair and spectacles...gee, that describes yours truly to perfection!

So, how much do we really know about Mrs. Claus?

But before Mrs. C. came on the scene, here's a bit about her husband. There is no mention of St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, having a wife. Yet as the 4th century Turkish bishop's practice of distributing gifts anonymously expanded and morphed over time, he has transitioned into a full-time behavior monitor, jolly elf, and bringer of toys.

However, even mythological love affairs don't just happen overnight. It would be centuries before Santa found his lady love. The first mention of Mrs. Claus appears in an 1849 short story "A Christmas Legend" by James Rees, in which a couple disguise themselves, angel-like, as travelers, and seek shelter with a family. As it turns out the two strangers are not the Clauses at all, but long-lost family members in disguise...thus, the legend was born.

Cover art from the Unremembered History website post by Ken Zurski.

Mrs. Claus is known to have lived during the early 
Middle Ages with Santa and was
 given the name 'Goody' which meant a good wife who took care of the house and Santa Claus. Her reputation was further elevated in Katharine Lee Bates's 1889 poem "Goody Santa Claus on a Sleigh Ride" when she demands to accompany her husband on his rounds and deliver the toys herself. 

It seems she had a bit of feistiness hidden beneath her red dress!  

People unanimously agree on Mrs. Claus's character. So, it stands to reason that since Santa Claus was a jolly character, his wife would be no different. She has been portrayed as an elderly woman, with white hair, spectacles and a red outfit with white fur trimmings. She was made to look like the perfect, caring wife who would wrap a scarf around Santa Claus every year, before he embarked on his long Christmas journey.

Mrs. Claus's role may have been overshadowed by the other important aspects of Christmas, but nothing can take away her pedestal as the woman in red waiting, on a night of celebration, for her husband to return from his long journey. The image is complete with her decorating Christmas trees and making cookies or gingerbread houses with her dear elves in the backdrop of a cozy fireplace.

Whether she goes by the name of Jessica, Mary, Anna or Gertrude, Mrs. Santa Claus has been a part of the oral and literary Santa Claus stories for as long as Santa himself, but she has been a quiet companion for several generations.

On behalf of Santa and Mrs. Claus, I wish you a holiday filled with love, joy, peace and all things that make you happy.

Merry Christmas!

My New Release!

...and here's the link for the Christmas Quilt Brides series!


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