Market meltdown may claim another victim: Santa Claus
A six-year old campaign in Germany to ban Mr. Claus is picking up steam.
Santa beware! Activists in Germany are waging an international campaign to do away with old Father Christmas and say they are gaining ground thanks to the global economic meltdown.
Armed with child-friendly stickers, web-savvy promoters and chocolate figurines, the "Santa-Free Zone" movement says it is gathering steam this year against what it calls the hollow commercialisation of Christmas.
Launched by a German Catholic priest in 2002, the campaign aims to knock Santa off his pedestal and replace what they see as a cheap, American import with the real thing: Saint Nicholas.
"The movement is intended to raise awareness of the fact that the consumption-oriented Santa launched by the Christmas gift industry has very little to do with the holy bishop Saint Nicholas," said Christoph Schommer of the Catholic aid group Bonifatiuswerk, which is rallying the Santa opposition.
Saint Nicholas, an actual historical figure, was in the fourth century Bishop of Myra in today's Turkey whose legendary modesty and generosity led him to give gifts in secret.
As the story goes, his greatest miracle was saving three girls whose impoverished father wanted to sell them into prostitution. Nicholas, who had inherited a fortune from his father, left three lumps of gold over three nights in their room while they were sleeping.
Catholics and Orthodox Christians in much of the world still celebrate Saint Nicholas Day, usually on December 6, as a festival for children, who receive chocolates in their shoes when they leave them out overnight.