It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

Credit: Morgue Files

When you think about Christmas, do you envision a person or a character? The commercialization of Christmas has brought forth a number of characters which the public has embraced. Here is a list of 10 of the most popular Christmas characters.

The 10 Most Popular Christmas Characters

Santa Claus

Santa Claus(70571)Credit: Morgue FilesThis jolly old man with the white beard and red suit is the most popular of the Christmas characters. He is the main character in the poem "Twas the Night before Christmas" which describes good ol’ Saint Nick as "…a little old driver, so lively and quick…He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot. A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack. His eyes-how they twinkled! His dimples how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry! His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow, and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow. He had a broad face and a little round belly, that shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly! He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf…He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose! He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight, 'Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!'"

Frosty the Snowman

Frosty The SnowmanCredit: Introspective PicsThe song Frosty the Snow Man, recorded by Gene Autry and The Cass County Boys in 1950, was the beginning of this lovable Christmas character. The song was followed by a Frosty the Snow Man children’s book published by Little Golden Books. In 1954, UPA studios brought Frosty to ’life’ in a three-minute animated short. Then in 1969, the Rankin-Bass company produced a thirty-minute animated television special “Frosty the Snowman” featuring the voices of popular comedian Jimmy Durante as the narrator, and Jackie Vernon as the title character. The television special told the story about a snowman that came to life after some children, who find a magical hat, place it on the snowman. The story ends as the sun comes out and Frosty begins to melt, and as the children become sad Frosty reassures them saying "I'll be back again someday." The Frosty song has been recorded by several artist and on some versions of the song the last line has been changed to "I'll be back again on Christmas Day!" For more on Frosty and other snowmen see the article "The Snowman ~ Winter's Cool Fellow." 

Frosty The Snowman Sing Along Songs

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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph the Red Nosed ReindeerThe story of Rudolph, the most famous of Santa’s reindeer, began as a poem created by an advertising agency for department store Santas to give to children. This poem was such a success that composer Johnny Marks made it into a song released in 1949 by Gene Autry. The song begins by listing the names of the lesser known reindeer "You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all?" The song and poem tell about Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer, who "had a very shiny nose," and how all of the other reindeer made fun of him until Christmas Eve, when the fog was very thick, Santa said "Rudolph with your nose so bright, won't you guide my sleigh tonight?" After that "all the reindeer loved him" and "shouted out with glee, 'Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history!'"

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

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Santa's Elves

Elf(70574)Credit: Introspective PicsThe elves are Santa’s helpers and they live with him and Mrs. Claus in the North Pole. Their responsibilities are to make the toys in Santa's workshop, wrap gifts, take care of the reindeer, and keep a list of children who have been naughty or nice. The naughty children receive coal in their stockings while the nice children are given toys. The elf is also the central character of the fun gift giving game "You've Been Jingled!" The game involves giving gifts anonymously, with the only clue being a cute poem about the "Christmas Elf" who is supposed to be the one leaving goodies. Anyone who receives a gift from the elf should give out two more gifts anonymously as the elf.

The Grinch

The GrinchThe Grinch is the main character in the book "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" by Dr. Seuss, published in 1957. The story was made into a popular animated special in 1966, and year after year it is a Christmas favorite. The story is about a creature known as the "Grinch," who had a heart "two sizes too small." One day he becomes enraged when he hears Christmas songs sung by the townspeople of "Whoville," so he decides to steal their Christmas. During his adventure the Grinch learns a lesson which causes his heart to grow "three sizes larger" as the good people of Whoville show him the true meaning of Christmas.

The Grinch

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Ebenezer Scrooge

Ebenezer ScroogeThe character of Ebenezer Scrooge is from the Charles Dickens' 1843 novel, "A Christmas Carol." This cantankerous and greedy old businessman, whose favorite line is "Bah, humbug," cannot fathom why he should give his employee the day off simply because it is Christmas. Dickens describes Scrooge as "A squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog days; and didn't thaw it one degree at Christmas…External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge. No warmth could warm, no wintry weather chill him…" Yuch!

Scrooge repents of his iniquitous ways after he is visited by three spirits. The Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come all stop by his home late one evening to show Scrooge the errors of his ways and what will happen if he doesn’t change. The next morning, Christmas day, Scrooge is a new man and shares his wealth and new found love with the people who need it most.

A Christmas Carol - (1951) Trailer with Alastair Sim

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Tiny Tim

Tiny TimTiny Tim is another character from the Dickens' novel, "A Christmas Carol." In stark contrast to Ebenezer Scrooge is Tiny Tim whose father, Bob Cratchit, works for Mr. Scrooge. Tiny Tim, although very ill, always sees the good in everyone. Scrooge does not see the severity of Tim’s illness until he is visited by The Ghost of Christmas Present. When The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come visits, he shows Scrooge the death of Tim. When Scrooge awakes the next morning, a new man, he visits the Cratchit family and informs Bob Cratchit that he is giving him a raise. Scrooge also becomes a ‘second father’ to Tim, and because of his generosity, Tim does not die at a young age. Tiny Tim offers as a blessing at Christmas dinner, saying "God bless us, every one!"  At the end of the story, Dickens repeats Tim's blessing. 

Tiny Time Quote

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The Nutcracker

The NutcrackerCredit: Morgue FilesOn Christmas Eve, a young girl finds a Nutcracker doll and shares this doll with her siblings, until her brother tries to crack a nut that is too big and the Nutcracker's jaw breaks. Upset, the young girl takes the Nutcracker away and bandages him with a ribbon from her dress.  At bedtime, the girl puts the Nutcracker to bed and tells him his jaw will be fixed and it will be as good as new. For a moment, the Nutcracker's face seems to come alive, and the girl is frightened, but decides it was her imagination. When the girl falls asleep, she is awakened to find mice and a Mouse King who tries to kidnap and take her to his kingdom. When the girl looks up at the Christmas tree, she sees it grow to an enormous height and everything seems to be out of proportion, and then she sees soldiers with the Nutcracker following behind them. The soldiers go to battle with the mice and as just as the Mouse King is about to defeat the Nutcracker, the girl throws a slipper, hitting and stunning the Mouse King. When he stumbles the Nutcracker defeats him. The girl then sees smoke and the Nutcracker, who is now a prince walks through the smoke to take her to a fairyland, and their journey takes them through the enchanted land of the Snow Queen and a Candyland, where they are met by the Sugar Plum Fairy. Finally, the little girl awakens and it is Christmas day. 

The Nutcracker Movie Trailer

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Toy Soldier

Toy SoldierCredit: Morgue FilesFrom the story "Babes in Toyland," about a Toyland filled with nursery rhyme characters such as Mother Goose, the Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe, Little Bo Peep, and others. All seems to be well in Toyland until the romantic advances by the villain, Silas Barnaby, are rejected by Bo Peep. Barnaby then plots a way to get Miss Peep to marry him by foreclosing on the mortgage due on the Old Woman’s Shoe, however, declares he will not foreclose if Peep agrees to marry him. Barnaby also threatens to banish those who would interfere to “Bogeyland.” In the end, his plan does not work as an army of wooden soldiers defeat Barnaby and everyone lives “Happily ever after.” The play Babes in Toyland opened in New York City in 1903 and has been made into several movies such as the 1934 movie, March of the Wooden Soldiers, starring Laurel and Hardy, and Disney's 1961 version starring Ray Bolger, who played the Scarecrow in the movie The Wizard of Oz.

Jack Frost

Jack FrostIn the 1902 book "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus," by L. Frank Baum, Jack Frost, who is the son of the "Frost King," is fond of nipping scores of noses, ears, and toes, and has the power to freeze shadows, separating them from their owners and making them their own living entities.  Although mischievous, and untrustworthy, Santa Claus likes Frost and sees him as a type of "jolly rogue." Santa asks Frost to spare the children, and he says he will if he can resist the temptation.

Jack Frost has appeared in other stories, such as in the Rupert Bear series and others, and the character of Jack Frost ranges from playful to wicked. 

The True Christmas Story

The holiday season is filled with many fantasy characters and stories of wonderment which bring joy and merriment to many. However, there is one true account of the story of Christmas that we should always remember and never take lightly, the story of a baby born in a manger . . .

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