Daily Bread for 12.25.21: Santa as a Hero for the Union

Good morning.

Christmas in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of 42.  Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 4:26 PM for 9h 02m 32s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 65.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1758, Halley’s Comet is sighted by Johann Georg Palitzsch, confirming Edmund Halley‘s prediction of its passage. This was the first passage of a comet predicted ahead of time.

 Ronald D. Shafer writes The first modern Santa Claus was a Civil War hero:

The modern image of Santa Claus first appeared during the Civil War. Santa sided with the North.

He made his debut on the cover of Harper’s Weekly for Christmas 1862. A drawing shows a white-bearded Santa Claus, wearing a fur coat with stars and stripes. But he’s not filling stockings for the kids. Instead, he’s handing out presents at a Union army camp — and dangling a puppet with a rope around its neck. The puppet resembles Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Thomas Nast’s first modern image of Santa Claus, in the Christmas 1862 issue of Harper’s Weekly. (The Met Collection)

The drawing was by 22-year-old Thomas Nast, who was born in Germany and came to New York with his family at age 6. Nast said he based his Santa on a German version of Saint Nicholas, Pelze-Nicol. The artist later became famous for his cartoons lampooning William “Boss” Tweed of New York City’s corrupt Tammany Hall political machine.

But he initially gained attention for his drawings championing the Union cause, including the one that introduced Santa as we know him. President Abraham Lincoln called Nast the Union’s “best recruiting sergeant,” adding, “His emblematic cartoons have never failed to arouse enthusiasm and patriotism and have always seemed to come just when these articles were getting scarce.”

Now that’s a proper cartoon, with a proper Santa.

Blastoff! James Webb Space Telescope launches on Christmas:

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