Photo: Creative Commons
These Santas and Jesuses Wouldn't Make It On Fox News
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These Santas and Jesuses Wouldn't Make It On Fox News

Fox News' Megyn Kelly, usually one of the saner voices on the network, responded on her show Wednesday night to a Slate piece questioning why Santa Claus had to be a white man.  “And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white,” Kelly said on the broadcast. 

And with that, America had yet another astonishingly stupid culture war battle on its hands: Yes, we were debating the ethnic background of a fictional character. 

Kelly quickly added to the hoopla by announcing that "Jesus was a white man, too." Perhaps one of those famous Nazareth blondes?

In fact, people had been depicting non-white versions of both Jesus and Santa well before Fox was beating back both the war on Christmas and the war on white Santas. The legend of the white-bearded, red-suited Santa Claus is based on a historical figure, St. Nicholas, a Greek Bishop from Myra, a city on the Mediterranean Sea now part of modern-day Turkey. As for Jesus, little is known about his actual appearance, though historiansand maybe anyone else who has spent time in the holy landhave hypothesized that he had olive skin and shorter hair.

Of course, as Christianity extended to all corners of the world, people saw Jesus as an extension of their own religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions. So he was white in most Western depictions, and less so in many others. Here are some pictures of Jesus and St. Nick that Megyn Kelly may not have seen.

    • Santa Claus

      Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
      Saint Nicholas from the first quarter of the 18th century; Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi monastery, Karelia, Russia
    • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
      St Nicholas with scenes from his life. Late 1400s or early 1500s. National Museum, Stockholm

Jesus

  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
    A fresco of the Madonna and Jesus in a Cathedral in Axum, Ethiopia.
  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
    Madonna in the Cathedral of The Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, Barcelona, Spain
  • Catedrales e Iglesias/Creative Commons
    Templo Porta Coeli "Catedral de los melquitas en México" Cuauhtémoc, Ciudad de México
  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
    Nicodemus and Jesus on a Rooftop, 1899, Oil on Canvas, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia
  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
    Jesus Christ, (17th-18th c. Ethiopia).
  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
    Chinese depiction of Jesus and the rich man, 1879, Beijing, China
  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
    Middle Eastern Christian icon of Jesus from Saidnaya, Syria
  • Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
    Persian Miniature, Mary and Jesus

 

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