"Alien" figure of Santa Claus encroaching on Czech traditions, says anti-Santa campaign

Foto: www.anti-santa.cz

With Christmas fast approaching, the figure of Santa Claus is to be seen all over the place in the Czech Republic - in decorations, on shopping bags and in store windows. But Santa is a relatively new phenomenon in this country. A similar figure, Mikulas (St Nicholas), visits children on December 5, while presents are delivered on December 24 by Jezisek, the Baby Jesus. Some Czechs resent the omnipresence of Santa Claus, among them the Creative Copywriters Club; they have set up a website with a simple message: Santa go home! I spoke to the group's David Konig at a Prague shopping mall.

"I'd like to say clearly I'm not against Santa himself. He's an American or English tradition and I respect it. But I'd like to ask Anglo-Saxons to be so kind as to respect my traditions, or Czech traditions. Santa is a little alien here."

On your website you tell a story about a book that you read to your daughter in which there was a big confusion between the figure of Jezisek and Santa Claus.

"Yes, that was the last kick to do something about it. Because it's really confusing when Santa is in the picture and he's called Jesizek by other characters in the book."

On your website you have a forum for people to express their opinions about Santa Claus in the Czech Republic. What kind of things are people saying?

"They mostly say something like, thank you for you initiative, I hate Santa as well, it's high time to do something about it. There were maybe two people - I think Americans settled in the Czech Republic - who wrote, why? It's just a symbol - isn't [this campaign] xenophobic? And I say, no, it's not xenophobia. I like America, I like rock'n'roll, I like Elvis Presley. But I don't like Santa Claus."

Foto: CTK
Earlier in this shopping centre here we passed a toyshop with a Lego Santa in the window. How often do you come across the figure of Santa in Czech culture? Is it really so common here now? And if so, have you seen it become more common in recent years?

"I think it's more common than in recent years, more common than last year. It's maybe in every third window that I pass."

Why do you think it's becoming more common?

"I think international companies, retail companies and advertising companies, are just too lazy - or something, I don't know - to shoot Czech TV ads or to make some Christmas decorations featuring Czech traditions. Maybe it's also because of money - they are chains and they have the same decorations all over the world, so they use it here also.

"I think it's crazy because all the marketing is about fulfilling the customer's needs. This is not fulfilling any need - this is forcing us to celebrate our feast days in another way, an alien way."

The address for that site is www.anti-santa.cz (in Czech only).