Although The Spectator‘s gossip columnist Steerpike finds it newsworthy that Selfridges will not be offering a Santa’s grotto in 2013 as if it’s a first, nor did they in 2012.
Last year, the iconic store had a wizard instead. How he would have been more child-friendly than a Santa is unclear. He would have freaked me out as a child (piccy at the link). That said, it looks as if a Selfridges Santa inadvertently did the same to a baby in 2011. Poor child. Poor Santa. Did that help to spell the end?
Or had CRB checks become too onerous?
Time Out reported in October 2012:
As part of their ‘Not Your Usual Christmas’ campaign, Selfridges has knocked down Santa’s Grotto and replaced it with a giant wrapped-up Christmas gift. Climb inside and you’ll find a mini snowy wonderland with wishing trees, Alice in Wonderland-like ‘Eat Me’ and ‘Drink Me’ treats, and screenings of a specially commissioned short film by Bruce Weber. Oh, and then there’s the ballerina and the WIZARD.
This year, a Selfridges spokesperson told Steerpike:
We felt a different direction was needed for 2013.
Santa has been downgraded to a roaming personal shopper who ‘advises customers on the perfect, and personalised presents.’
But another insider told The Spectator columnist:
the store’s international clientele aren’t bothered about Christmas so the space required to recreate Lapland is no longer economically viable.
From what I have observed in and around the store as well as Oxford Street in general, this is because the big spenders are often those from non-Christian backgrounds.
That and CRB check headaches are my hypotheses, anyway.
Yes, Santa Claus might be a 1930s invention by the Coca-Cola Company. However, he has a real life precedent in Saint Nicholas, whose feast day is December 6. ‘Claus’ is a diminutive of ‘Nicholas’.
For the Dutch the feast of Sinterklaas is a bigger day for children’s presents than Christmas Day itself. It is also, thanks to them, still celebrated in the United States — and possibly elsewhere — with a small treat (e.g. chocolate bar) placed in a shoe or stocking as a foretaste of marvellous presents to come.