Is Santa Claus Really Based On The Wild Man? Danny Trejo In 'American Horror Stories' Is No St. Nick

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Is Santa Claus Really Based On The Wild Man? Danny Trejo In 'American Horror Stories' Is No St. Nick

Do not hang the stockings by the chimney with care or have any hopes that St. Nicholas soon will be there this Christmas. Because Danny Trejo's Santa Claus in American Horror Stories demonstrated in "The Naughty List" that not all Santas are jolly. Spoilers ahead. As Trejo's character helpfully shares an article about with the Bro House bros, his Santa in American Horror Stories is based on the wild man. Well, consider me your friendly writer from the York Explorer Daily because I researched "The Truth About Claus" article that Kevin McHale's Barry reads in "The Naughty List" to see if Santa is really based on the creature of the wild man.

The origins of Christmas and Santa are as muddled as mulled wine and a bit more pagan than the "Jesus is the reason for the season" slogan would leave you to believe. "The Truth About Claus" article in "The Naughty List" claims that Santa Claus isn't based on St. Nicholas but on "ancient tales of the wild man." And Trejo's character has taken that to heart as he dresses up as Santa and wreaks murderous havoc. (Kind of like Ian McShane's Santa in AHS: Asylum.)

According to American Horror Stories, the wild man was a "pagan nature god, bringer of storm and fury and destruction, who wore animal skins and a hideous painted face. He was also a fierce hunter who punished those who were bad." And though Trejo's Kris Kringle is rocking a mall Santa costume, he sure punished those who were bad (can anyone say the House Bros didn't deserve it?) with fury and destruction.

Artist Jeffrey Vallance wrote about the Santa-wild man connection in an L.A. Weekly article called, "Santa Is a Wildman!" There's also a book on the subject by Phyllis Siefker called Santa Claus, Last of the Wild Men: The Origins and Evolution of Saint Nicholas, Spanning 50,000 Years. So this is a theory that's out there in real life.

Siefker wrote (thanks, Google Books!), "Our Santa is one of the last descendants of a long line of dark, sooty, hair-covered men, the remnant of a pre-Christian god of awesome power." Siefker, like Vallance, noted that Santa and the demonic Satan come from the same origins — with Siefker citing this ancient European "beast-god" of fertility as the nexus. And again, it's not like Trejo didn't embody both Santa and devil in "The Naughty List."

This is just a theory on the origins of Santa, but the wild man is a "real" mythologic creature. Although it didn't form a connection to Santa, the Met did an exhibit at the Cloisters in 1980 on the Medieval art featuring the wild man — and some of that art was featured in American Horror Stories.

Public Domain courtesy of The Met

One trademark of the wild man is a club that he wields. For instance, there's a wild man statue in Storuman, Sweden, who's also on the Lapland coat of arms. (Is it just coincidence that the Lapland region of Finland and Sweden is considered by some to be Santa's North Pole home?) The statue at the Swedish Hotell Toppen shows a big, burly red man with a white beard, a green leaf wreath, and a club — a club not dissimilar to the one Trejo's Santa used to beat up number one Bro House bro Zinn.

Hotel Toppen courtesy of Trip Advisor

Maybe if the Bros had been children, Trejo would have embodied a Krampus. But since they are 30-year-old men, Trejo's Santa went with the wild man legend. And hey, if your Christian-Christmas sensibilities are offended, he's not all pagan since Trejo speak-sings some of the lyrics from "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman," which has some quite biblical lyrics talking about angels, Jesus... and (who else?) Satan. Tidings of comfort and joy!

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Images: FX on Hulu

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