The New-York Historical Society. An exception the excellent dissertation of K. Richards, How Christmas Came to the Sunday Schools, 1934, who, p. 52, expresses doubt about the New Amsterdam origin Santa Claus. Gift-giving on that day was a custom of merchants; “the bakers’ dozen” was limited to that day. Father Knickerbocker, The Legend and the Myth Actually, the first Knickerbocker was a real person, as far as scant account reveals to us. 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”. This number does not include St. Nicholas; for instance, in that year 1947, Benjamin Britton composed his cantata, St. Nicolas. When St. Nicholas was introduced into New York households, the date of visitation usually depended on the sect of the family. At the Historical Society’s St. Nicholas Day celebrated a dozen years ago Mrs. Carson answered that question, when she told how she and Dr. Brigham of The American Antiquarian Society discovered a unique copy of a juvenile called The Children’s Friend, published on Broadway just the year before Clement Moore wrote his poem. According to Tin Pan Alley that year: Santa Claus is Due; Santa Claus Has Moved to Indiana; Santa Claus for President; Santa’s on His Way; Santa, Dear Santa; and Santa Drives Again. Tammany is no longer a saint, but a tiger. At his death, Pintard wrote to his biographer, Dr. Francis: “He rendered important services to his country by the promotion of science and literature… . Pintard never could have felt warmly about Verplanck, but they had worked closely together as leaders of The New-York Historical Society. 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. It was a strange faculty—all, or virtually all, questionable to Pintard, but beloved of Bishop Hobart. Sic transit gloria! The Reformation was an age of violence. Father Knickerbocker, then as now, was the symbol of New York. From then on, St. George’s parties grew more lavish and officialdom more irritating to the patriots, especially to underprivileged patriots. Verplanck the editor was the first to publish Weir’s work, and Verplanck the politician got Weir his appointment at West Point. Verplanck had married my aunt, and Irving had been engaged to my sister who had died while still young … . Strict Anglican families would not give gifts at the New Year (despite the English commercial custom alluded to above) because that day was a pagan holiday. 1. Tammany had started out King Tammany, in opposition to King George; but in 1771 it had become St. Tammany, in opposition to St. George. Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy, The New York Public Library. Home; About. But according to one of the earliest records, on January 10, 1809, at the annual banquet of the Society, Dr. David Hosack (who because of Pintard’s deafness was apt to give public utterance to Pintard’s ideas) offered this toast: At that same dinner, Washington Irving’s name was proposed for membership. Moore (professor in an Anglican seminary) in 1822 wrote, “The night before Christmas”; but there are printings of his verses during the next twenty years in which the line is changed to, “The night before New Years.” These religious scruples only gradually disappeared. The authors ransacked history and legend for patron saints. At all events, as St. Tammany had become in his mind the patron saint of his nation, St. Nicholas had become the patron saint of his city. 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. We should expect so popular an image to be brought to America, and it was—before the Reformation. 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. All content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. 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. Unlike England, the Continent had learned to tolerate its children’s idols. 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. “Knickerbocker Santa Claus” by Charles W. Jones, The New-York Historical Society Quarterly, October 1954, Volume XXXVIII Number Four, The New York Historical Society. When New Yorkers resurrected St. Nicholas, they did so because he was anti-British, not because he was pro-Dutch; and he was not to be taken seriously. The Yule log was burned, the Boar’s head adorned the table, the house was strung with green boughs, and Santa Claus (Kris Kringle) left his presents in appropriate costume.” (N.Y. Genealogical and Bio- graphical Society, Records I, 52.) Doubt has been cast on the assignment of these verses to Moore (cf. But he is not losing ground: In New York City we have St. Nicholas Cathedral and, until recently, The Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas. In December of 1809, before he was famous, the 26-year-old Manhattan-born Irving published his satirical book, A History of New-York from the Beginning of … Irving, unlike Paulding, would not overwork a joke; but up would bob St. Nicholas in his stories of the Hudson as much as thirty years after the History. Search this site . That somewhat rowdy group of patriots was interested in regalia and picnics, not museums; but under Pintard’s reign, they established the Tammany Museum of American Antiquities. 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. 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 Knickerbocker Club (known informally as The Knick) is a gentlemen's club in New York City that was founded in 1871. From Philadelphia, St. Tammany exercised his patronage wherever the patriot armies moved—even in the Jersey marshes. Some of it creeps in the latest doctoral dissertation on New Netherland.4 But when we look at the evidence—that is, the newspapers, magazines, diaries, books, broadsides, music, sculpture, and merchandise in past times, the picture is not substantiated. Gulian, too, was primary in the forming of the Knickerbocker History. To use Dr. Edgar Romig’s phrase, the Dutch were hagiophobic to a preeminent degree. Betsy 01/29/2020 06/07/2020 Advertising, History, New York City, Nostalgia, Shopping, Vintage Brooklyn, Elaine Winik, Father Knickerbocker, Howard Clothes, Mens Clothing, New York City, New York Giants, New York Gothams, NYC, NYC Blackout of 1977, Ripley’s Clothes, Samuel Sennet 1 Anapests for children’s verse were standard; see the 1810 verses quoted above. For instance, in the year 1773, its president was Lord Drummond. I only say that it has not yet been cited, and that I and those who have graciously assisted me have searched more specifically for it than have, for instance, H. L. Mencken for his American Language and the editors of the Dictionary of American English, who also found nothing. We have substituted other symbols for saints. Copyright © 2002–2021 An account of the true development of Santa Claus in New York and thereafter throughout the United States. We cannot know whether these cookies gave the patriots their idea. Those who have read July’s enjoyable biography know that Gulian occupied any chair only for the purpose of talking. Both women had Dutch connections. 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. 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. 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”. Father Nelson H. Baker had been dead for years and the campaign to … I am happy to report that even as Weir shipped his second Santa Claus, the Society’s painting, to Gulian, he received word of his award. But legend it surely is. 300-305). A magazine of the Metropolitan district, 318-326 West 39th Street New York " New York Public Library Digital Collections. 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. And in 1822 Verplanck’s enthusiasm was Santa Claus. 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. “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. The patriots had, derisively, canonized a non-British, native American as their patron, and observed his Day on May 1st each year. Hockey was another popular sport at the time and generated considerable profits; however, the arenas were not used often. Knickerbocker's realization was a long route, starting with his ordination as a Methodist minister in 1966. Without Irving there would be no Santa Claus. On New Year Day all families of standing served brandy and imported cookies, made by the best Continental bakers. 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. But no Santa Claus. 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. placed there by some of the family, which they are told Old Santaclaw has come down Chimney in the night and put in. 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. 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. He is one of the foremost scholars to have examined Saint Nicholas place through the centuries and how he became Santa Claus in the United States. So there is, I believe, an element of truth in the myth about Clement Moore’s Dutch gardener; only the gardener was Gulian Crommelin Verplanck, collaborator with Sands and Bryant on The Talisman, Peter Puff, the pseudonymous author of The Bucktail Bards, friend of James Fenimore Cooper (who refers to Santa Claus in The Pioneers, which he was writing at this moment); a founder of the St. Nicholas Society and the St. Nicholas Club. The custom lasted for sixty years or so, but has now, I believe, disappeared. In 1946, basketball, particularly college basketball, was a growing and increasingly profitable sport in New York City. Nor was that all. Although Gulian’s mother was a notorious Anglophile during the Revolution, and his father no ardent patriot, Gulian, during the period of post-Revolutionary exaltation of Holland, began to boast his Dutch extraction, as did other New Yorkers. Family, which they are made in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century molds year,... 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