Santa School circa. 1961


20th Dec, 2013

With Christmas being so close you can almost taste the egg nog, I thought I’d better step up my Yuletide game here at MessyNessyChic. So let’s hop on our slay and travel back in time to 1961 Albion, New York and take a tour inside Santa School … (it’s basically better than Lapland).

Established in 1937, the Charles Howard’s Santa Claus School actually still exists today, now operating out of Michigan and proudly claiming the title of the world’s oldest Santa School. Candidates pictured here in 1961 by LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt have signed up for a 5-day, $75 course in the hopes of receiving a Santa certificate that will enable them to get Yuletide jobs at local department stores.

Above, a Santa Clauses is put through his paces during a practice session with child volunteers (it is unclear whether these children have previously caught their parents putting presents under the tree and are therefore now non-believers, suitable for Santa training).

Demonstrating how to wear the Santa suit. 

Six of the 15 men enrolled in Santa Claus School learning how to render a jolly belly laugh.

Two men in Santa gear learning how to do a spritely soft-shoe dance.

Learning how wear wigs and whiskers.

Founder Charles Howard showing students how much of Santa’s face should show between wig and beard.

This certifies that …. has honorably and diligently completed the course in the study and art of Santa Claus, and is now ready to carry on as a Helper of Santa Claus.

As holder of this diploma, I fully realize the responsibility and privilege that is mine in spreading joy and happiness to the children of this world through their beloved friend and servant, Santa Claus. 

I hereby sincerely and solemnly promise to give my best, my all to carry out the principles Santa Claus stands for. 

All images (c) Life Archives




You might also like


More in Desirable DigsEditor's PicksInspiration VaultLost & FoundNostalgiaObscure historyPeople / Icons / MusesTime travel

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks


The Messy Nessy Chic Holiday Book List

Don’t count on me as a book critic here and I’m certainly no literary connoisseur, but one thing you might be able to rely on is that I’m not bad at sniffing out a good story. And by now, I th...

Trending 385

The Fashion World’s Best Kept Secret

If you asked me to name three fashion photographers off the top of my head, I would probably say, Mario Testino (easy one), Annie Leibovitz ... and does that guy who photographs everyone on the st...

Trending 1,108

The Art of Homemaking in a World War Dugout

It all started with one photograph that caught my interest, and then through the course of today, I think I've easily gone through about 10,000 photographs, searching through various archives for ...

Trending 2,471