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SantaRampage, 2004 (Austin)
SantaRampage, 2004 (Austin)
Santacon 2005 (New York)
Santacon 2005 (New York)

SantaCon is a mass gathering of people dressed in cheap Santa Claus costumes, performing publicly on streets and in bars. The focus is on spontaneity, creativity, and the improvisational nature of human interaction while having a good time. Variously known as Santarchy, Santa Rampages and the Red Menace, SantaCon events are noted for bawdy and harmless behavior, including the singing of naughty Christmas carols, and the giving of gifts. Some participants see SantaCon as a postmodern revival of Saturnalia, while others see the event as a precursor of the flash mob.

In 1994, the Cacophony Society staged the first SantaCon in San Francisco. Influenced by the surrealist movement, Discordianism, and other subversive art currents, the Cacophonists decided to celebrate the Yule season in a distinctly anti-commercial manner, by mixing guerrilla street theatre, pranksterism, and public intoxication. In subsequent years, SantaCon evolved, spawning many different versions of the event throughout the world.


Santarchy around the world

Local Cacaphony Societies have staged SantaCons in Los Angeles, Portland, New York, Seattle, Washington DC, Denver, Austin Texas, Vancouver, London, Tokyo, and McMurdo Station in Antarctica. By 2003, the idea had spread to almost 30 cities in four countries. In 2004, nearly 500 people participated in SantaCon in New York City, and, in 2005, enough Santas participated in the Washington DC Santarchy to circle the Washington Monument.

Santa events are now planned and put on by a many groups for a variety of purposes. Some groups participate only for a night out bar hopping, while others parade through the cities in the daytime singing Christmas Carols, giving out candy and gifts to children, and raising money for charity.

Santarchy and the law

Spoof subway poster (New York)
Spoof subway poster (New York)

Most participants of Santarchy adhere to a set of Santa's Suggestions. Most importantly, it includes "not messing with children, police, security, or Santa". Despite this, in 2005, a more violent version of the event occurred when on December 18, participants in Auckland, New Zealand, proceeded to start a small riot, with such criminal acts as looting stores, throwing bottles at passing cars, and assaulting security guards. At least two bystanders were lightly injured and three arrests were made. Alex Dyer, spokesman for the group, stated that Santarchy in Auckland was part of a worldwide phenomenon designed to protest against the commercialization of Christmas.[1]

An update on the recent "Bad Santa" behavior is available on the website [2]. The New Zealand group claims the media exaggerated the incident and many participants of other SantaCon and Santarchy events were very shocked and disappointed by the incident. Most participants follow the set of "Santa's Suggestions" and do not break any laws. Unlike the statement from Alex Dyer, most santa groups are not protesting anything; the only purpose is to have fun and spread holiday cheer.

Another incident occurred earlier in the month on December 5, when a horde of Santas riding bicycles into traffic in Tulsa, Oklahoma during morning rush hour. Eyewitness, police scanner, and radio traffic reports indicate Santas were spotted across Tulsa. The Tulsa Indy Gazetteer later reported that at least one of the Santas was later apprehended and charged with violations of city ordinances. [3]

Despite these stories, most SantaCon events still maintain Christmas cheer. According to Reuters News, a Santa in Great Britain in 2005 paid off parking tickets. The Santa left money on the windshields of drivers who have received parking tickets with the message "Don't let this ticket spoil your Christmas, Here's £30 to pay it off. Merry Christmas - Parking Ticket Santa."

In popular culture

  • The Santa Rampage is mentioned in Chuck Palahniuk's book Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon and in his short story "My Life as a Dog" (featured in the book Stranger Than Fiction: True Stories).
  • The parody artist Bob Rivers touched on the idea of Santarchy in his song "There's Another Santa Claus," a parody of "Here Comes Santa Claus". Lyrics include:
"That Christmas cheer / Smells a lot like beer / On Santa Claus' account tonight" and "Just saw Santa Claus / Just saw Santa Claus / Just gave a Santa Claus change / Drove downtown and a bell-ringing Santa Claus / Hit me up again!"

External links

Home | Up | Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004 | Christmas Seal | Christmas creep | Christmas in the media | Christmas season | Christmas traditions | Christmas worldwide | Christmastime greetings | Festive ecology | Happy Holiday(s) | Koledari | Nativity Fast | Nine Lessons and Carols | NoŽl | Pagan beliefs surrounding Christmas | Santa Claus | SantaCon | Secret Santa | Secularization of Christmas | White Christmas | Xmas

Christmas Guide, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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