The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon | Issue Archives | Dec 13, 2007
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  • Issue of
  • Dec 13-19, 2007
  • Vol. 11, No. 50

Opinion

  • Editorial
  • Keeping Santa Fat

    There's some debate over the origins of the modern, red-suited, white-bearded Santa Claus. His name, for example, is derived from the 4th century bishop St. Nicklaus of Mycea, who was known for his generosity. But other aspects of the modern Claus appear to be derived from German pagan traditions, his bearded visage more closely resembles that of the Germanic god Odin. And Santa's reindeer-powered transcontinental journey seems inspired by the tales of Odin's flying horse Sleipnir. While there are plenty of points of contention about Santa's origin, there's one thing that people all around the world have agreed upon for some time - Santa is a big guy. Recently that presumption has come under fire. Earlier this year a London newspaper reported that there was a push in that country to make the legions of seasonal Santa workers get in shape in order to set a better example for children. More recently the US Surgeon General Steven Galson told the Boston Herald that Santa did not provide a healthy role model for children. The Santa makeover effort has prompted somewhat of a backlash, led in part by a tongue-in-cheek campaign from local advertising PR firm DVA Advertising and Public Relations. The company launched a satirical website last week, www.keepsantafat.com in a lighthearted effort to counter the push for a PC Santa. So far the group has secured roughly 3,400 signatories to its Keep Santa Fat online petition, gathering support from all 50 states and dozens of countries, said Justin Yax, DVA's public relations director. The website has received more than 8,000 hits since launching this past weekend, Yax said, and has been featured on ABC News and the New York Times. The company hatched the idea to do a web campaign about three weeks ago after watching the Santa weight controversy gather momentum, said Yax. "Instead of doing a holiday card this year, we're doing this. This what we're putting our effort into," he said. DVA has pledged to donate the equivalent of one pound of food to America's Second Harvest Food Bank for each signature, up to 50,000 pounds. Yax said DVA is currently looking for business and individual partners to match its donation. The web campaign, which includes video spots by DVA in the Daily Show vein, was a group effort, said Yax. The site includes an optimal weight chart for Santa, which Yax said puts him between 285 and 330 pounds. Oh yeah, and he's roughly 5 foot 8. For those keeping score that puts him at body mass index somewhere between 43 and 50. And well into the obese range, according to the National Institute of Health. But then again, nobody's arguing that he isn't fat. "We've been having fun with it and that's all we set out to do," Yax said.
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