There’s a battle on for the hearts and minds of the children of Austria.
Not Coca-Cola versus Pepsi. Not Playstation against the Xbox. No, it’s Santa Claus in a fight to the finish with the Christkind.
Let me explain.
In catholic Austria, it’s the Christkind (Christ child) that traditionally brings the gifts at Christmas.
The bad news for traditionalists is that the Christkind doesn’t lend himself to modern-day marketing and advertising requirements.
Enter Santa Claus or Father Christmas. Now there’s a nice, safe, non-religious Christmas brand.
Sensing their chance, companies across the land have started using Santa Claus on their Christmas packaging and other marketing materials, boosted in part by the help of non- (or decidedly anti-) religious groups.
Things first came to a head back in 2004, with both sides firing salvoes at each other via the media in an intensive effort to settle the issue one way or another.
Vienna’s largest Christmas market on the Rathausplatz has come down firmly on the side of traditionalists: 2004 saw the election of the first “Wiener Christkindl” (Vienna Christ Child) and that established concept is still going strong. As the organizers put it, the market on the Rathausplatz is there to provide children with some “…respite from the all-pervading yuletide bustle and Santa Claus mania.”
(Personally I think it’s the parents that bring the presents, but what do I know?)
If you want to learn more about the Christkind tradition, check the overview of Christmas in Vienna.
(Photo credit: © WavebreakMediaMicro / Fotolia)