Kind old gent hangs up red suit

It's official: Santa's gone green
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Santa Claus has officially turned green, joining the ranks of the world's environmental campaigners, writes Geoffrey Lean.

Government, religious, community and industrial leaders in Turkey - where St Nicholas was born and died - have decreed that he should hang up his red coat and don a green mantle instead "to remind us of the environmental problems".

The green saint was on show earlier this month at a conference held by the guardians of his image - the 14th Santa Claus And Call For World Peace Activities - in Demre, near Antalya on the Turkish south coast. The official conference document says it is making "a practical call for respect of the environment by using the colour green in the costume of Santa Claus".

It goes on: "Our children will ask us: `why did you change the colour of Santa Claus into green?' We will tell them that `one of the biggest, the most important, the most urgent problems of our world is the protection of wild life'."

The "traditional" red coat, trimmed with white, originated in 1931 when Coca-Cola commissioned the Swedish artist, Haddon Sundblom, to draw Santa for an advertising campaign. Inevitably, the saint was put in red and white company livery, and the image stuck.

Five days in the life of Santa, page 17