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What did Santa Claus and Jesus really look like?

December 17, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
FOX News's Megyn Kelly caused an uproar last week when she said "Santa just IS white" while offering commentary on a Slate Magazine column saying we should do away with Santa Claus and have a Santa Penguin instead. Aisha Harris's column can be found at Kelly also claimed that Jesus Christ was white. Kelly apparently later said her remark was tongue in cheek.

Personally, I have no problem with a black or Chinese or American Indian or white Santa, particularly in diverse communities. Preschoolers in Harlem might enjoy seeing a black Santa; kids on one of the Indian reservations here would probably enjoy seeing a Native American Santa. Men of all races and ages dress up in Santa Claus suits and a good time is had by all. Likewise, many churches depict Jesus as black or white or Asian or American Indian, depending on the community being served.

Most of the Santa figurines I have at home make Santa look pretty Scandinavian, maybe because I've bought them in an area where so many people are of German or Scandinavian descent. At home I have a vintage statue of a blonde, blue-eyed Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus and another statue showing a European looking Joseph with his arm around a fair haired, European-looking, pregnant Virgin Mary. I also have a statue showing a Native American Madonna, made by a local artist. I think all of them are beautiful.

But if we want to get really technical, the original St. Nick was not black or northern European either. Good St. Nicholas was Greek and looked like a Southern European man with a Mediterranean complexion. Forensic scientists actually created a reconstruction of what he probably looked like, using his saintly remains. It can be seen here: As for the historical Jesus, he likely looked Semitic and probably quite a bit like today's Jews and Arabs. Here is an interpretive painting of what a first century Semitic man would have looked like: The painting appeared in a CNN special called "The Mystery of Jesus."

What do you think of the controversy over Kelly's comments?


Article Comments



Dec-20-13 12:09 PM

The whole thing is really silly.

I once saw a depiction of The Last Supper where everyone was Japanese. The artist was Japanese. It's been a well-known thing where local artists will project their own characteristics onto the figures being depicted, whether correct or not.

Yes, the original St. Nicholas, who punched a heretic rather than give him a stocking full of coal, was from Asia Minor and would have looked like someone from there. Same for Jesus.

Dec-18-13 12:26 AM

Not sure other countries have America's one drop rule.

Dec-18-13 12:25 AM

Media controversy about media members then media write stories about media controversy about media members..


Dec-17-13 4:49 PM

That there is controversy, no surprise. That there should be controversy over two real individuals that lived, also no surprise.

The information you provided about St. Nicholas should be common knowledge, as well as that about Jesus, whose heritage was Jewish.

People make adaptations or revisions to historical figures as it suits their present need, want, or inclination. Myths and legends can die hard as people grow up to hunger after truth.


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