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With Christmas vastly approaching, I felt an obligation to spread something I recently discovered, and sadly that something is not joy. In fact, what I realized is that Mrs. Claus does not have a first name! The beloved character, first mentioned in the 1849 short story "A Christmas Legend" by James Rees, has become a household staple along with her husband, Santa Claus, otherwise known as Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle. But why doesn’t Mrs. Claus have a full name like her husband?

The character is known for being a feisty spirit who enjoys elf-wrangling, cookie baking, and assisting with toy assembly. Despite her many talents, Mrs. Claus has remained in the shadows of her workaholic husband for almost two centuries. The trope of Mrs. Claus is simply one of being the wife of a famous figure.

[bf_image id="qeyz5x-7kzb6g-cvnact"] In the 20th century, many stories portrayed Mrs. Claus as the "secret Santa." If Santa were to fall ill or be injured, Mrs. Claus would take his sleigh on Christmas Eve, dress in his clothes, stuff her shirt with pillows (to get that classic Santa figure), and make the global round of deliveries. As Mrs. Claus was doing a "man’s job," naturally these tales could not let the character off that easily. Mrs. Claus was said to have mixed up children’s presents "but in an endearing, forgivable manner." Even Santa Claus referred to her as his “helpmate” in quite a few early 1900s stories.

Many Christmas stories are incredibly androcentric, centering the man above all else and complying to gender stereotypes. In the 1963 poem, "How Mrs. Santa Claus Saved Christmas," Mrs. Claus is referred to as the "cozy, rosy, grandmotherly" woman who accidentally delivers "ribbons to tomboys" and toy dump trucks to doll-loving girls. This description would obviously not fly today as there is nothing wrong with boys liking ribbons and girls like trucks, however in the 1960s, gender roles were incredibly prevalent. 

[bf_image id="fz2j6x29jvrtjwsbqms2shg"] Essentially, Mrs. Claus is presented as the passive woman whose life is defined by her husband. She makes mistakes, but hey, what woman doesn’t? But, of course Santa, a man, never makes mistakes, which is why Mrs. Claus should not make the Christmas decisions and hold power during the holiday.

However, arguably, Mrs. Claus is a woman who holds much of the burden and responsibility of Christmas. So how come she remains unnamed? Stories in the 1970s started giving Mrs. Claus a first name, with stories calling her "Jessica," "Layla" and "Mary," but her name still continues to be ambiguous.  

[bf_image id="v8q784k549f7crk2qm7xcrg"] Historically, Mrs. Claus was introduced in the mid-1800s. During this era, women’s life revolved around men. A man’s wife belonged to him and all of the wife’s assets belonged to the husband too. So would it have made sense for Mrs. Claus to have been originally given a name? No. But does she deserve one now? Heck, yes! 

It’s time for Mrs. Claus to get a rebrand. Her life is more than just her husband. She is more than a baker and "helpmate." Society has evolved greatly, with women being recognized by most people as individuals who are just as strong, capable, and smart as men. Women have been to space, have taken part in typically male-dominated sports, and now we have a women Vice President-Elect, so why shouldn’t there be a woman running Christmas? And for a woman to run Christmas, surely she needs a first name. 

Mrs. Claus is a strong-willed, creative woman who deserves to be granted the same respect as her husband who has many monikers. Let’s grant Mrs. Claus the recognition she warrants and give her a first name! Let’s rebrand Mrs. Claus for the better!

Peri Coskey

Wisconsin '21

Meet Peri! She's a senior majoring in Communication Arts and Sociology with minors in Digital Studies, Gender and Women's Studies and Entrepreneurship. Her favorite things to do are watch Veronica Mars, thrift shop and chill with friends. When Peri is not taking naps, she can be found hanging out with her friends, most likely talking their ears off. Interested in seeing more of Peri's work? Check out pericoskey.com!
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