christmas 1920: have yourself a creepy little christmas

Christmas 1920: Scary Santa

Los Angeles Express, December 25, 1920.

While the editor thought this was an adorable page three picture, it can't help but come off as creepy these days. Is this child having a nightmare? Is Santa secretly a giant demon who takes on the form of a friendly holiday figure? Was Fred Coffey really angry at the Venice Publicity Bureau and decided to come up with the creepiest image possible?

Elsewhere on this page, readers were told that Los Angeles "contributed to more Christmas dinners than any other city in the world" thanks to food harvested in Los Angeles County. "It has been told by a California traveler and adventurer that in the trading posts of the South Sea islands he found canned products bearing the labels of Los Angeles." At the Los Angeles County Prison, jailer George Gallagher declared that "the 375 guests in his hostelry had one of the finest spreads in the entire city - not only the entire city, but in all the region west of the Rocky Mountains."

Perhaps this Santa joined the jailhouse feast after he was arrested for peering into children's windows. 

Scariest Santa Ever?

The creepiest Santa I ever encounted was on a road trip several years ago. My mom, sister, and I had spent a few days in Ottawa, and decided to explore some small towns on our way back to Toronto. We stopped in a holiday gift shop in Merrickville. While my mom was finding all kinds of things she liked, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I encountered this statue. 

The rest of my family had a similar reaction.

Perhaps the artist was watching slasher flicks when creating this, or "And All Through the House" from Tales From the Crypt (either the 1970s film version or the television series).

Christmas 1920: Santa Watches Over Us

 Ottawa Citizen, December 24, 1920.

Back to 1920, where Los Angeles wasn't the only city with stalkery Santas staring at or hanging over children. Kids had similar issues in Ottawa, where Santa also admitted he had an accomplice, Mr. Sandman (who may or may not have turned on his magic beam).

Washington Star, December 24, 1920.

This illustration seems innocent enough: a child requesting a doll for Christmas. The cartoonist, Robert Ripley, was a rising star, having launched his Believe It or Not! strip for the New York Globe the previous year. 


Vancouver Province, December 24, 1920.

...this Ripley cartoon was also syndicated at the time, presenting a slightly ghoulish/gothy street urchin clutching a doll that (presumably) Santa delivered. If you don't view the squiggles on the lettering as fresh snow, this "Merry Xmas" could easily lead a horror story.

Believe it or not!


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