Santa-Free Zone

Groups in Germany and Austria have launched campaigns protesting the commercialization of Christmas. The main target is Santa, an American import who doesn’t represent what the holiday is all about.


The Frankfurter Nicholas Initiative is a campaign founded by Roman Catholic priest Eckhard Bieger who’s alarmed by the growing commercialization of Christmas in Germany, and wants to put St. Nicholas, a fourth-century monk, back in the Christmas spotlight where he used to be.

German kids set out their shoes on Dec. 6 for St. Nicholas to fill them with sweets, but that holiday now pales in comparison with Santa’s sleigh-ride night.

To counter this trend, the Frankfurt Initiative has launched pro-Nicholas campaign. They show kids how to turn chocolate Santas into chocolate Nicholas figures and hand out stickers in stores to proclaim the area a “Santa-Free Zone.”

“St. Nicholas was a man who helped the poor, saved people who were unjustly condemned, freed prisoners,” explains a campaigner. “You could say he was a forerunner of Amnesty International. Santa is much less than that — just about giving gifts.”

They declare that they do not hold any particular grudge against Santa, or the gift-giving he represents. It is just a matter of keeping the excesses of the Christmas season in check.

Via Deutsche Welle.