In 1939, a nation-wide broadcast began: “W. L. White, speaking to you from Finland, the country where our legend of Santa Claus and his reindeer first began.” But the Finnish Santa Claus, with reindeer, was an American export. Accessed November 25, 2020. The city set their standard. New Yorkers might borrow an attractive idea from their neighbors, but they would stamp it with their own trade-mark. From 1838 the sensationally popular verses were attributed to him, and he not only subscribed to the attribution but included the verses in a reprint of his poetry and deposited a holograph copy of the poem at The New-York Historical Society. Pintard gradually drifted from his Huguenot church; by 1828 he was firmly installed in the Anglican communion, to which his family subscribed. In 1762, according to the New York Mercury: The most elegant up to 1762, that is. John Pintard, according to the evidence the next to invoke St. Nicholas, was a Huguenot. 65-66, he writes on “Festivals and Amusements of the People.” He reports only three holidays: Christmas, New Year, and May Day. Through Pintard, New York was symbolized by St. Nicholas, although very shortly Father Knickerbocker moved in. The legends about this poem are growing nearly as fast as legends about Santa Claus himself. But there is no evidence that it existed in New Amsterdam or for a century after English occupation. back15. The Bollandist Acta Sanctorum does not include Nicholas because that edition has not yet reached December 6. back2. Soon that Society would be celebrating with him his special saint’s day. In 1809, legendary author Washington Irving solidified the knickerbocker name in New York lore when he wrote the satiric "A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty" under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker. No Acts. Unlike England, the Continent had learned to tolerate its children’s idols. “I can remember,” said William Cullen Bryant, “learning a passage from it for a declamation and drowning myself in laughter, drawing the rebuke of the tutor.” It was quoted in Gotham taverns at a time when Temperance was not yet heard of. In Poland and France he brings husbands and babies. Such holdover customs of the old country die here—quickly, if the group is quickly assimilated; more slowly if, like the Pennsylvania Germans, they resist the melting pot. As if that were not enough, his partner and brother-in-law, James K. Paulding, who could not leave a good joke alone, repeated it again and again. It seems clear from this almanac that he was thinking of St. Nicholas and Nicholas Day in the same patriotic spirit and would push the cult for the same patriotic reasons. Brown. This year, there will be about seven thousand emaciated little men, padded out with pillows and other stuffing, bad-fitting cotton beards (washable, fireproof nylon beards and wigs for Santa Clauses cost $24.95 at Gimbels), red cheese-cloth, and black oilcloth boots, ringing bells at seven thousand corners of these United States, distracting citizens and cutting down on the capital goods production of the country. Like tuberculosis germs, Nicholas customs are always coming into our social body. In Southampton and Tripoli he guards sailors and merchants. The first, of course, is Clement Moore’s poem, A Visit of St. Nicholas, written Christmas 1822.16 It has been known that Moore depended upon Irving. Verplanck had married my aunt, and Irving had been engaged to my sister who had died while still young … . In New York City there are, or recently have been, three schools solely for the training of Santa Clauses; these Gotham schools are imitated in other major cities. My sister Mrs. Annie Nicholas, was at home. (nĭk`ərbŏk'ər), term used almost synonymously with the adjective "Dutch" in respect to Dutch families and customs and the Dutch region of early New York state. Barck I, 164). The first appearance of the saint’s name after the Revolution is in an almanac which Pintard created for himself in 1793. Even belly-jelly was a good classical rhyme in Moore’s eighteenth-century models. The cults are local—just such customs as escape the eyes of kings and prelates, teachers and poets. Kase developed the idea of an organized professional league to showcase college players upon their graduation and felt it could be… We also have St. Nicholas Avenue and St. Nicholas Arena, not to mention the beauty shop, drug store, etc., quite irreverently dedicated to the saint. North Pole, in the Adirondacks, has been a recent commercial success, as the incidence of gaudy signs on car bumpers testifies. Santa is a Teutonic form, a phonetic change from Sanct Herr. Gulian could have been both an inspiration and a source for Irving; in fact, we may guess, in the absence of records, that it was Gulian who introduced Irving to this Society. The History contains no less than twenty-five allusions to him—many of them the most delightful flights of imagination in the volume. Of the many valuable Continental works, I mention only the scholarly edition of early Greek lives by Gustav Anrich, Hagios Nikolaos, 2 vols., Leipzig, 1913-1917; the popular French work by Eugène Marin, Saint Nicolas, 2d ed., Paris, 1930; and the monumental study of Karl Meisen, Nikolauskult and Nikolausbrauch im Abendlande, Düsseldorf, 1931, which contains plates of more than two hundred representations from the plastic arts, most judiciously selected. Meisen5 transcribes a few of many laws, passed against St. Nicholas by that government. Cutting “early predicted the future eminence of his pupil, and contributed by his praise and encouragement to its fulfillment.” (N.Y. Genealogical and Biographical Society, Records II, 162.) The Knickerbockers moniker goes back to the Dutch settlerswho first settled in New York. They might have gotten it from any one of the germinal ideas of emigrants which were brought to America to die. 1. It is obviously derived from both the Pintard verses and the Knickerbocker History: Santa Claus was made by Washington Irving. Doubt has been cast on the assignment of these verses to Moore (cf. I emphasize that there is a good chance that these patriots never had Holland in mind at all. According to his nephew, many years later: “I remember when Washington Irving first came from Europe, on a Sunday shortly after his return, Mr. Verplanck and my brother Ogden Hoffman unexpectedly dropped in to dinner. For example, in Stuyvesant, pp. The Reformation was an age of violence. It is considered to be the most exclusive club in the United States and one of the most prestigious and selective clubs in the world. Diedrich Knickerbocker was created in 1809 by a young Washington Irving, who used the character to narrate his classic satire,A History of New York. Children will outwit reformers every time—all except those well-behaved English children. Irving joined the Society while composing the History, apparently to gather material—just to see, we can imagine, what made those mortals tick; for they were then uncongenial to him. cit., chapter II. I quote but part of one ordinance, from Amsterdam: Of course, the very presence of such laws shows that St. Nicholas was lurking underground, like Karl Marx, and that the Dutch feared subversion. At all events, John Pintard wrote the Constitution and became Sagamore of the Society here. Father Knickerbocker is a giant balloon that appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1936. The ease with which the mind confuses the chronology of popular customs is well documented. In the year 1756, local Scots formed the St. Andrew’s Society, a benevolent and social organization, patterned upon similar societies in Boston and Charleston. In Wales and Crete, he is invoked by fishermen. Then no other mention of St. Nicholas until 1793, long after the Revolution. But who made his? The first quatrain: is illustrated by a sprightly reindeer and sleigh.17, I doubt that Moore would have written St. Nicholas in any other year; fathers in a holiday frenzy seize the subject close at hand. Later, Gulian Verplanck (in his The State Triumvirate, 1819) was to take a dig at the same group: 13 Only three years later a juvenile (False Stories Corrected, published by Samuel Wood, 357 Pearl Street) tried to debunk “Old Santaclaw, of whom so often little children hear such foolish stories; and once in the year are encouraged to hang their stockings in the Chimney at night, and when they arise in the morning, they find in them cakes, nuts, money, etc. Cutting married a Pintard, and Mitchill was his greatest student. Nor was that all. Mrs. Van Rensselaer2 repeated it, and from her Stokes3 picked it up. In the Dutch communities of Michigan and Iowa, St. Nicholas used to call with oranges and switches on December 6th. Fifty temps dressed as Father Knickerbocker roamed the various dining rooms, where their tricolor hats glowed with lights spelling out “1909” when midnight struck. 326-330. The New-York Historical Society. Anapests for children’s verse were standard; see the 1810 verses quoted above. Among the Society’s papers is a series of letters from Weir to Verplanck. Eighteen years later Pintard wrote, in a letter to his daughter, that he had heard some lines of this verse from his mother-in-law, but could only learn all of the words from a Mrs. John Hardenbrook (aet. I do not mean that his delightful rhymes about St. Nicholas are out of character. I, but John Pintard. There is no evidence that St. Nicholas suggested Holland to the New York patriots; for a century, ever since the Whig revolt in England, Holland was increasingly cut off from the Colonies, and as Hanover replaced Orange on the English throne the Dutch, if noticed at all, were not noticed with favor. Used by permission. Told from Knickerbocker's point of view, A History of New York is a chronicle of New York's fifty years under Dutch rule in the 1600s that plays fast and loose with the facts, to uproarious effect. And in 1822 Verplanck’s enthusiasm was Santa Claus. The best estimates indicate that in this period the number of Dutch in the Colonies did not noticeably outnumber French, Flemish, Walloons, or Swedes, and were outnumbered by Germans—all of whom together constituted but ten per cent of the population. There are many later records to the effect that these were St. Nicholas cookies, and the calendar and habits of the time make the statements tenable.6 Such cookies might have been baked at almost any center on the Continent. Our United States is now symbolized by Uncle Sam; but in 1800, it was St. Tammany. But legend it surely is. The Knickerbocker Club (known informally as The Knick) is a gentlemen's club in New York City that was founded in 1871. According to Bond, there are 204 dedications to St. George in the England he patronizes; but there are 446 to St. Nicholas. New York was a different government from Pennsylvania. Moore knew how to multiply; he was perfectly capable of turning one reindeer into eight, and of naming them. That history was told from the alleged perspective of the old-line Dutch families who had settled New York before it was taken by the British. Thus the little innocents are imposed on by those who are older than they, and improper ideas take possession, which are not by any means profitable.” back14. back16. Kilroe, the most ardent student of Tammany, gives Pintard primary credit, not only for founding this New Jersey chapter, but also for nationalizing the Tammany societies, and for establishing the one here in New York. The Father Knickerbocker ball given for the benefit of the City History club in the new ballroom of the Plaza last night was very largely attended. In Aberdeen and Bologna he gives passing marks to college students. Professor of chemistry and natural philosophy at Columbia College, in these years 1804 to 1809 he was United States Senator, not by election, but by appointment of Clinton’s party as Clinton’s successor. The Knickerbocker baseball club, founded in 1845, was the first organized baseball team in the United States. Today Mitchill is almost forgotten. He is an early Gothic revivalist. But the colonizing of America and the Reformation concurred, and the American colonists were preponderantly reformers. Thank you for the history on the hospital. We should expect so popular an image to be brought to America, and it was—before the Reformation. 170–184; esp. A kindlier disposition than Irving’s would be hard to find. Here, at last, was American Literature. That St. Nicholas is apparently lost. 6. No doubt the popularity of Moore’s verses helped to center the event on Christmas. The verses, as printed in Pintard’s broadside, are related to an eighteenth-century Dutch song, somewhat debased, presumably by oral transmission. Although travelling zoos and circuses were popular at the time, none of the ads, broadsides, or news items indicates any reindeer. Drayton was a favorite poet of his, and Drayton, in his Nymphidia, showed him how. These sensitive souls, who must always be right as they front the world and consequently succeed in being only stuffy, are at that season caught with their inhibitions down. When Eva Knickerbocker was born on 1 February 1779, in Pine Plains, Pine Plains, Dutchess, New York, United States, her father, Jahannes (John) Knickerbocker, was 26 and her mother, Susanna Pulver, was 24. Gift-giving on that day was a custom of merchants; “the bakers’ dozen” was limited to that day. “Laying his finger aside of his nose” is a direct quote from the History. Search this site . The final decision to call the team the “Knickerbockers” was made by the club’s founder, the legendary Ned Irish. Gulian was a devotee of Irving’s Santa Claus; and he was Professor of the Evidences of Revealed Religion in the new Seminary. Today we are somewhat sheepish when we gather to acknowledge St. Nicholas as our patron. About N-YHS; President and CEO; Highlights 2018-19 This, then, is our best current knowledge about the Sons St. of Nicholas in the years 1773 and 1774. But on the Continent, St. Nicholas continued to hide his nuts and apples in the shoes beside the bed from the Middle Ages to this year 1954; some of these customs are five hundred to a thousand years old. But he who came to scoff remained to pray. The Father Knickerbocker ball given for the benefit of the City History club in the new ballroom of the Plaza last night was very largely attended. Six years later, his panel on a truly Dutch subject—The Departure of the Pilgrims from Delft-Haven—was sent on a triumphant tour of the country before being installed in the Rotunda, where it can still be seen. At this late date Pintard wrote that his children had sung the verses as infants; but it is doubtful. From 1809, St. Nicholas was New York. “When, in 1796, America’s external debt stood at twelve million dollars, the whole amount was owed to Holland.” (See NYHS Quarterly, April 1953, pp. But the items can be explained. Drayton turned Shakespeare’s image of Queen Mab’s lazy finger of a maid into waiting-maids called Fib and Tib, Pinck and Pin, Tick and Quick, Jill and Jin, Tit and Nit, and Wap and Win. Moore was a most admirable man—a leading Hebrew scholar, benevolent and religious, and a loving father. Without Irving there would be no Santa Claus. Read 2 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Ned Irish – the founding fatherof the Knicks – led the club to victory against the Toronto Huskies (68-66) during their first showdown in this newfound league. We have substituted other symbols for saints. by Charles W. Jones*, The New-York Historical Society Quarterly, October 1954. Irving could say with fairness that until he published his Knickerbocker History in 1809, few citizens knew “that New York had ever been called New Amsterdam or had heard of the names of its Dutch governors or cared a straw about their ancient Dutch progenitors”. No. Copyright © 2002–2021 These are the days, in 1789 to 1793, when his patriotism leads him to search for American history and antiquities; when he inspires Belknap to found the Massachusetts Historical; and when, blocked from founding a society in New York, he “engrafts” it, as he himself, writes, onto his Society of St. Tammany. According to Weyman’s New York Gazette, April 13, 1761, “The anniversary feast of St. George is to be held” at the House of James Elliott, at Corlear’s Hook. Moore’s St. Nicholas is Moore’s, despite claims to the contrary. N. Phelps Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan Island, index, S. V. back4. type size. Father Knickerbocker, then as now, was the symbol of New York. Where reformers were especially active, his appearance shifted from his own day, December 6th, to some acceptable holiday or feast like Christmas, Innocents Day, New Year, or Epiphany. Patron saints run through his mind in connection with politics and commerce. There is a mood of irresponsibility that overwhelms fathers at the Christmas season, and in none is the mood more marked or more catastrophic in its results than in pedants. back17. If the legend were true, that Nicholas was the patron of New Amsterdam, he would certainly have appeared in these songs and similar popular comment. Every faculty has its Gulian, who perches himself 0n his colleagues’ desks and pours out his moment’s enthusiasm. None is known. The lobby, on the Forty-second Street side, was much admired by the host of visitors, and all paused to take a look at the representation of Father Knickerbocker in the entrance hall. They were the parents of at least 4 sons and 7 daughters. Americans were grateful for the help of the two Continental countries. The forgotten Dutch colonizing of New Amsterdam was now remembered with civic pride. When did it all start? “Knickerbocker Santa Claus” by Charles W. Jones, The New-York Historical Society Quarterly, October 1954, Volume XXXVIII Number Four, The New York Historical Society. What we can assert with surety is that New York patriots formed a local society and dedicated it to St. Nicholas as a New York symbol, just as Philadelphians sanctified Tammany—all because of St. George. I got these at my favorite local shop for a century so popular image. 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