It’s the holiday season and as you bake cookies, shop for gifts and get ready for Santa, I want you to take a moment to stop and think about the 1930’s.
Yes, the 1930s, the decade of the Great Depression, the start of World War II and the golden age of Hollywood. It was also the decade that gave us many of the Christmas traditions and images that we hold dear today.
Santa Claus – Santa Claus wasn’t invented in the 1930s, but the image of him as a fat man in a red suit that we all know and love was. In 1930, Coca-Cola’s advertising firm hired artist Haddom Sundblom to create an image of Santa Clause to hock the soda in its holiday ads. Drawing his inspiration from the classic poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, Sundblom created the jolly elf with the belly like a bowl full of jelly and the red and white suit. The ad campaign was a success and his image of Santa Claus was forever cemented in our minds.
Christmas Cookies - Although the tradition of baking and giving Christmas cookies can be traced back centuries, the idea of leaving cookies out for Santa started in the 1930s. During the Great Depression, when it seemed like everyone didn’t have enough, leaving cookies was a good way for parents to encourage their children to share with others. It is a tradition that has stuck, even if some kids view the cookies as more of a bribe than a thank you for Santa.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer got his first shot at being Santa’s lead reindeer in 1939. The iconic reindeer with the light up nose was created by Robert L. May as part of a promotion for Montgomery Wards. Like the Coca-Cola Santa image, Rudolph went down in history.
Monopoly – Although the game isn’t exclusive to Christmas, I remember playing it with my cousins on many Christmas Eves and it is still a favorite gift to give and receive. Although different versions of the iconic game had been around since the turn of the 20th century, the final form we have all come to know and love was released by Parker Brother in 1935.
1935 is also the year my novel, Studio Relations is set. It is the story of Vivien Howard, a vivacious female director and Weston Holmes, a handsome studio executive who must overcome their professional differences to find love during Hollywood’s golden age. So, on Christmas Day, when Santa’s cookies are long gone, your marathon game of Monopoly is over and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is drifting out of the stereo for the last time, please consider curling up with a story set in the decade that brought us these wonderful Christmas traditions.