LETTER: Santa Claus takes on new ID

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From Mr Lars Breimer

Sir: The Swedish artist Jenny Nystrom (1854-1946) created Father Christmas (Jultomten) as he appears to us, not Haddon Sundblom, as stated in Richard Halliday's letter of 15 December.

Jenny Nystrom won the gold medal of the Academy of Arts in 1881. From about 1890 she drew annual Christmas cards for Axel Eliasson, a publisher of greeting cards in Sweden. She used her father as a model.

Sundblom, like all Swedes, would have been thoroughly familiar with Jenny Nystrom's cards and illustrations of children's books. Sundblom's contribution was to make Santa more rotund and give him reindeers. In Jenny Nystrom's cards, the sleigh is pulled by a horse; reindeers are not very strong. Jultomten is also sometimes accompanied by his goat. The reason why Swedes stick straw goats under their Christmas trees is that they deliver presents to the homes which Santa cannot reach.

Yours faithfully,

Lars Breimer

Richmond, Surrey

15 December

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