This photograph of Santa Claus and me is undated. Rather than just post a picture of Santa Claus and me, I decided to research the origin of the ritual of sitting on Santa Claus’s knee.
According to Wikipedia, “Santa Claus appears in the weeks before Christmas in department stores or shopping malls, or at parties. The practice of this has been credited to James Edgar, as he started doing this in 1890 in his Brockton, Massachusetts department store. He is played by an actor, usually helped by other actors (often mall employees) dressed as elves or other creatures of forklore associated with Santa. Santa’s function is either to promote the store’s image by distributing small gifts to children, or to provide a seasonal experience to children by listening to their wishlist while having them sit on his knee. Sometimes a photograph of the child and Santa are taken. Having a Santa set up to take pictures with children is a ritual that dates back at least to 1918.
The area set up for this purpose is festively decorated, usually with a large throne, and is called variously “Santa’s Grotto”, “Santa’s Workshop” or a similar term. In the United States, the most notable of these is the Santa at the flagship Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the last float, and his court takes over a large portion of one floor in the store. The Macy’s Santa Claus is often said to be the real Santa. Essayist David Sedaris is known for the satirical diary he kept while working as an elf in the Macy’s display, which he later published.
Quite often the Santa, if and when he is detected to be fake, says that he is not the real Santa and is helping him at this time of year. Most young children seem to understand this, as the real Santa would be extremely busy around Christmas. At family parties, Santa is sometimes impersonated by the male head of the household or other adult male family member.”