THE true spirit of Christmas will be at the heart of a bumper festive fun day at Arundel Museum on Saturday, December 21 – and everyone is invited.
The all-day event will bring together many of the elements which make Noel truly special for all ages, including not one but two wonderful characters representing different incarnations of Father Christmas.
And it will also be party time for teddy bears, the world’s favourite toy for more than a century.
There will be a plentiful array of vintage bruins. Visitors are also urged to bring their own childhood favourite for a ‘beary’ get-together and a chance to have him or her identified and evaluated by an expert.
Children will be thrilled to meet a traditional Father Christmas, played tthe museum’s oldest volunteer, 91-year-old David Golding.
The distinguished airman and former town crier is considered by many to be the best incarnation of Kris Kringle in Arundel, with his booming voice and jolly attitude.
And while David is just what we here in Britain think of as the typical Santa Claus, he will be joined at the museum fun day by a very different Father Christmas – not dressed in red but in green.
The red suit came about in America as part of a marketing campaign for a soft drinks company.
Most people think of Father Christmas and Santa Claus as the same person, but, in fact, he was probably two or even more different people.
Saint Nicholas, who was the Bishop of Myra in Turkey in the third century, travelled in his red robes, giving gifts to the poor, in particular children. Apparently he was very shy and wanting to give money to a family, he secretly dropped coins down the chimney, where they landed in a stocking.
His story ‘arrived’ in Britain along with the Normans and it was quickly absorbed into the legend of our Father Christmas, who had been around for much longer.
There are many stories and legends about pagan winter festivals which include a Father Christmas-type figure, all of which have become part of the modern version.
It is likely he represented the coming of spring and wore a long, green hooded cloak and a wreath of holly, ivy or mistletoe and had the ability to make people happier during the long winter months.
You can meet both the ‘red’ and the ‘green’ Santa at the museum and hear both of them talk about their fascinating histories. The Christmas fun day takes place from 10.30am to 4pm.