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The Modern Santa Evolves

Norman Rockwell

In 1920, Norman Rockwell (1895 - 1978) brought us another vision when he created Santa for the Saturday Evening Post. Following the lead of Thomas Nast, the Rockwell Santa was a large, portly, and jolly. Also like Nast, most of Rockwell’s treatments of Christmas revolved around subjects other than Santa himself.

In addition, Rockwell created oil paintings of Santa for other Post covers on the following dates: Dec. 6, 1924; Dec. 4, 1926; Dec 3, 1927; Dec. 21, 1935, and Dec. 26, 1942. In total, Rockwell created eight Santa covers for the Post between 1916 and 1946. During that time, he had created 320 covers for the Post, including his annual Christmas covers.

It is interesting to note that several of Rockwell’s Santas had halos, more evocative of the Saint than the secular.

For a good overview, see Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1977) and A Norman Rockwell Christmas (New York: Metro Books, 2000).

Rockwell also created hundreds of other illustrations and paintings for companies around the world, including, in 1965, the Pepsi Santa. Although the Sundblom "Coke" Santa had been created annually for decades prior to Rockwell’s Pepsi Santa, Sundblom did not apparently influence Rockwell; the Pepsi Santa of 1965 was substantially the same as ones that he created from 1920 on. Ed. Note: I saw one of these Pepsi Santas in an antique store on Highway 54 between Jefferson City and Eldon, MO., on Dec. 3, 1999. The figure was about 5 feet tall.

Rockwell also created Santas for Western Union (1935-6) and Hallmark (1948 & 1975)

See Donald Stoltz and Marshall Stoltz, The Advertising World of Norman Rockwell (New York: Harrison House, 1985).

  • Left, "Santa", Dec 4, 1920; 
  • Middle, "Christmas: Santa with Elves," Dec. 2, 1922
  • Right, "Extra Good Boys and Girls," Dec. 16, 1939

Extra Santas by Rockwell


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Collections of Christmas Carols & Poetry
Compiled and Edited by
Douglas D. Anderson

Victorian Visions
A Christmas Poetry Collection

Divinely Inspired
A Christmas Poetry Collection

The Bridegroom Cometh
Poetry For The Advent

Other books by Doug Anderson

Once A Lovely Shining Star

A Christmas Poetry Collection

So Gracious Is The Time

A Christmas Poetry Collection

How Still The Night

The Christmas Poems of Father Andrew, S.D.C.

 Father and Daughter

Christmas Poems by Frances and William Havergal

Now, Now The Mirth Comes

Christmas Poetry by Robert Herrick

What Sudden Blaze Of Song

The Christmas Poems of Rev. John Keble

 A Holy Heavenly Chime

The Christmastide Poems of Christina Georgina Rossetti

All My Heart This Night Rejoices

The Christmas Poems of Catherine Winkworth

A Victorian Carol Book

Favorites from the 19th Century —
Still favorites today!

Other Books by Doug Anderson

A Psalter – A Book of the Psalms Arranged by Luther's Categories

Betbüchlein: A Personal Prayer Book, a recreation of Luther's 1529 prayer book

Daily Prayer

Luther's Passional

Luther's Writings on Prayer: A Selection

Devotions for the Advent – 2009

The Lenten Sermons of Martin Luther, Second Edition

Descriptions of all these volumes can be seen at
Books by Doug Anderson

The Hymns and Carols of Christmas
Douglas D. Anderson

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