Friday, December 21, 2007

Frightened By Santa Claus

Article from 1911

How the Dear Old Saint Carried Consternation Into an African Mission House

An amusing story of how Santa Claus frightened the black children at a mission station when he first appeared to them a few years ago, is told by the wife of a missionary stationed at Bailundu, Africa. They had celebrated Christmas at Bailundu before, but they never had had Santa Claus, so Mr. Stover, the missionary, dressed up as good Saint Nick.

"He had been padded and powdered and packed until his own mother would not have known him," Mrs Stover afterward related. "Presently we gave the signal, the door flew open and in walked Santa Claus. But dear me! "What consternation! He was greeted with shrieks and groans and cries of 'Let me out! It is the evil one. It is the day of judgment!'

"The urchins, catching the infection of terror from the older black people, fled to their bedrooms, fell down upon their faces, crept under chairs and tables — anywhere to hide themselves. Poor old Santa Claus never had such a greeting before. As soon as he realized the panic he had caused, he tore off his tall hat and white cotton beard. Then from the bags on his back he began to throw gifts right and left and to tell who he was.

"Reassured once more, everyone was soon laughing and chatting, munching the great 'red breads' (doughnuts), tasting their fruits or nibbling at the sweets from the familiar little bags.

"It seemed as though everyone tried to talk louder than his neighbor as they examined the costume of Santa Claus, whom they now no longer feared. One man said that he thought it was John the Baptist, another that it was Elijah returned. Yet another thought it was Satan himself, 'and all my sins rose up before me;' while a fourth confessed, 'My only thought was to hide myself'."

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