Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Real beard vs. “traditional” beard, the Santa feud continues on

‘Tis the season when sides are taken, the battle lines drawn, the skirmishes commence.

I’m speaking, of course, about whether the department store, mall, or office party Santa should have a real beard or a fake one.

On the side of the fake beards, which are often made of yak belly hair and can run you over $2K, they often look better than a beard of the DYI variety. (By the way, fake beards are better known as designer beards, fashion beards, or - in a near-Orwellian usage - traditional beards. Traditional? Yes, traditional. That’s because the Santas of near yore, as in The Miracle on 34th Street and my childhood, had fake beards because no one in that near yore would have considered for a North Pole minute growing a full, bushy, flowing, white beard. No, men then wanted to look sharp, feel sharp, and be sharp with a safety razor from Gillette. I don’t remember ever seeing a man in a beard until I was in college.)

“Not many people can grow a beard that looks storybook, but Santa is always supposed to be larger than life. Unfortunately, many people who try to grow a Santa beard look more like street people,” said one local “designer-bearded” Santa who declined to be named, because it’s a small community.  (Source:

What real beards have going for them – other than the obvious commitment to the trade that they imply – is that they never fail the pull test (which IMHO would be conducted only by a bratty, out of control little monster who deserved nothing so much as a half a lump of coal in his stocking).

Real beard-os contend that real beard = real Santa, and many of those who advertise for Santas accept no substitutes: real beard-os only need apply.

“A real Santa has a real beard. If it’s a fake beard, people think it’s a fake Santa,” said “Santa Bruce,” who will be host to thousands of screaming and smiling children at the North Shore Mall this holiday season.

Santa Bruce? He may have a real beard but doesn’t that sound like a fake handle?

Macy’s, by the way, has declared, coming down on the side of the uniformity, which can only be provided through yak-ery, fakery:

.. last year, Macy’s, whose New York Santaland is an icon of the season, ousted its real-bearded Santas to give all of their portrayers a uniform appearance.

Naturally, one things leads to another, and I stumbled on Clausenet, “the largest social network and online resource for the Santa Claus Community!” Santas on both sides of the real vs. traditional divide seem to get along pretty amicably, I didn’t read through all the bearded forums – Real or fake Beards, Santa Beard – but the comments generally seemed more nice than naughty.

One question I had is how they find so many real Santas with beautiful white beards. After all, how often do you see someone young enough to withstand the rigors of being a Santa, with a beautiful head, let alone beard, of beautiful white hair.

The answer, found on the boards at Cluasenet, is that some Santas, at least, give nature an assist and dye (or even, weirdly, paint their beards, as a read in one reference). Does he or doesn’t he, only Mrs. Santa Claus knows for sure.

Meanwhile, in other Santa-related news, up in Maine – a bit closer to the North Pole – a mall Santa got fired for general snarkiness. He refused to let a little girl sit on his nap because her mother wouldn’t buy the $20 photo, which seems a bit mean, even though a good part of the reason for the mall Santa season is selling those pictures, no?  The same child got dissed when she asked for an American Girl Doll and Santa told her she’d be getting an American football, which seems a bit mean, even though it’s a tiny bit funny.

Anyway, the guy who was fired doesn’t sound like he was cut out to be a Santa – sounds more like David Sedaris coming back to do the Christmas thing, but has been promoted from elf to Santa; maybe the guy’s just a David Sedaris wannabe. Given his lack of Santa empathy and smarts, I’m guessing that the fellow who was fired was a fake beard, traditional Santa. Not that I’m suggesting that fake beard, traditional Santas are lacking in empathy and intelligence. It just doesn’t sound like this one was in to enough to go through the trouble of growing a real on.

In any case, the debate rages on.

On Dasher, on Dancer…Yak, yak, yak.


Battlin’ bearded Santas are nothing new. In 2008, I blogged about a rift between two not-so-benevolent-orders-of Santa Claus, which got the fur flying among all kinds of St. Nicks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems to be the craze right now to have a real bearded Santa. I am a Professional Traditional Bearded Santa with a high end beard and wig. Trust me on this one. It is the person and not the beard that makes a good Santa. Of course, businesses want a good look and a Pro Santa must have a high quality beard and suit to capture that storybook look. However, you need to have enthusiasm, personality, be quick with a wit, fun and have a love for children and Christmas. That, my friends, is something you cannot buy or grow! Yours truly, Santa Vincent, Toronto