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ISSUE 12 - May 2012

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Santa and the Moon (pages 13 - 15)
Peter Barthel

Key Words
Books, Moon Phases, Christmas

This article reflects on the use of illustrations of the Moon in images of Santa Claus, on Christmas gift-wrapping paper and in children’s books, in two countries which have been important in shaping the image of Santa Claus and his predecessor Sinterklaas: the USA and the Netherlands. The appearance of the Moon in Halloween illustrations is also considered. The lack of either knowledge concerning the physical origin of the Moon’s phases, or interest in understanding them, is found to be widespread in the Netherlands, but is also clearly present in the USA, and is quite possibly global. Certainly incomplete, but surely representative, lists that compile occurrences of both scientifically correct and scientifically incorrect gift- wrapping paper and children’s books are also presented.

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