Now that we've digested Last Christmas after turkey & all the trimmings, join us in the Warped Factor sleigh as we look at the legend of Santa Claus! The Twelfth Doctor describes him as a manifestation of the subconscious, helping himself, Clara & the others trapped in a dream state to fight off the Dream Crabs slowly killing them as they sleep.
Of course, the idea of seemingly fictional characters appearing to be real is nothing new- the Doctor having seen that all before in The Mind Robber with the likes of Lemuel Gulliver made flesh & blood in the Land of Fiction - "out of the time space dimension. Out of reality!" By similar logic Santa appears little more than ''a fairy tale''. To those he appears before, though, he's as real as Gulliver, Rapunzel or the Karkus were to the Second Doctor, Jamie & Zoe.
More recently the Doctor's met Robin Hood too. But what of the ' real famous cat all dressed up in red' who ' spends the whole year workin' out on his sled '?
In a sense, he is indeed real. His roots date back to the fourth century, & the life of Saint Nicholas of Myra ( part of what was then the Byzantine Empire, in what is now Turkey). He is depicted as having a white beard, with numerous references made to his generous gifts given to the poor in displays of Christian charity- his own saints' day falling on December 6, with gifts often given the night before. Following a reformation of the Christian calendar which placed the date of Christ's birth on December 25, Saint Nicholas went on to be amalgamated into the story of Santa Claus, beard & all!
There's also a case for the suggestion that elements of former pagan & other winter traditions were added into the brew- the name Yule comes from Germanic languages, & several traits also attributed to the likes of the Norse god Odin would go on to help form the composite that would become the jolly fat man who delivers presents to all good children:
"The appearance of Santa Claus or Father Christmas, whose day is 25th of December, owes much to Odin, the old blue-hooded, cloaked, white-bearded Giftbringer of the north, who rode the midwinter sky on his eight-footed steed Sleipnir,visiting his people with gifts.…Odin, transformed into Father Christmas, then Santa Claus, prospered with St Nicholas and the Christchild became a leading player on the Christmas stage."And who are the descendants of Sleipnir? Donner, Blitzen & Rudolph, Claus's faithful reindeer, as seen in Last Christmas! Getting him where he needed to go, much like the Doctor's TARDIS. Indeed, the Eleventh Doctor claimed to know Santa as ' Jeff' after making a very Santa-ish entrance into proceedings in A Christmas Carol....
Originally his now traditional red costume was green- the change said to have come about at the behest of the Coca-Cola company. He has more in common with the Doctor than we knew before now too- consider this from TV producer & professional Santa Jonathan Meath.
"Santa is really the only cultural icon we have who's male, does not carry a gun, and is all about peace, joy, giving, and caring for other people. That's part of the magic for me, especially in a culture where we've become so commercialized and hooked into manufactured icons. Santa is much more organic, integral, connected to the past, and therefore connected to the future."Connected to the past & future? Surely that's the Doctor's raison d'etre!
Doesn't carry a gun? Check...
"I never would. Have you got that? I never would! When you start this new world. This world of Human and Hath... remember that! Make the foundation of this society a man who never would!"And if there's anyone else who's cared more about the Earth & its people, or given more to that cause, we've no idea who they might be.
The idea of his 'naughty list', which Clara Oswald is implied to have been on in her past, comes from the Christmas song Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, first written in 1934-
He's making a listAs for his sleigh, which the man himself claims is '' bigger on the inside'' to cope with the worldwide demand for presents, if you read the news on Christmas Eve you might have seen him travelling through space in much the same manner as the Doctor does on a daily basis! According to the Mirror that is...
And checking it twice
Gonna find out who's naughty or nice.
Santa Claus is coming to town!
He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
"The children of Britain looking to the sky to see Santa's sleigh tonight could catch a glimpse of a craft at the International Space Station when it passes over the UK. From around 5.22pm for around three minutes and again at 6.58pm for two minutes, weather permitting, the craft will be visible in our skies, says NASA data."Unlike the Doctor, though, Claus can be tracked. He's even had robot doppelgangers- see The Christmas Invasion & The Runaway Bride.
And the Doctor has got in on the act before then, dressing as Santa in Better Watch Out, Better Take Care during his Fourth incarnation in the Short Trips & Side Steps anthology, in order to leave a present for the Brigadier. And what does he give Lethbridge-Stewart, you might ask? A stocking, the contents of which number a walnut & two oranges!
As the ''real'' Saint Nick is advised: ''You know how you grew that beard as a bit of a disguise? People have picked up on it''. Quite literally in that particular case.
But what is real, & what is a dream? Ho ho ho indeed!
It may just be that Clara was on to something when she was asked "Do you believe in Santa Claus?", and replied "I've always believed in Santa Claus. But he looks a little different to me"