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A Kidnapped Santa Claus

Ratings:
22 pages15 minutes

Summary

A Kidnapped Santa Claus is a Christmas-themed short story written by L. Frank Baum, famous as the creator of the Land of Oz; it has been called "one of Baum's most beautiful stories" and constitutes an influential contribution to the mythology of Christmas.

A Kidnapped Santa Claus was first published in the December 1904 edition of The Delineator, the women's magazine that would print Baum's Animal Fairy Tales in the following year. The magazine text was "admirably illustrated" with "pen drawings of marked originality" by Frederick Richardson, who would illustrate Baum's Queen Zixi of Ix in 1905.

The story opens with a quick overview of Santa's castle in the Laughing Valley. Its focus soon switches to the five Caves of the Daemons in nearby (though unnamed) mountains. These creatures are pagan daemons rather than Christian demons, in that they are not servants of Satan or necessarily evil. Four of the five, the Daemons of Selfishness, Envy, Hatred, and Malice, certainly are bad, but the fifth, the Daemon of Repentance, is a more ambiguous figure.

The Daemons of the Caves resent Santa Claus because children under the influence of his gifts rarely visit their caves. They decide to frustrate his efforts and counter his influence. (The Daemon of Repentance goes along with the plan, since children cannot reach his remote cave without passing through the caves of his compatriots beforehand.) The Daemons first try to tempt Santa Claus to their own vices; they visit him one by one, and attempt to lure him into selfishness, envy, and hatred. Santa Claus merely laughs at their clumsy efforts. (The obvious model for these episodes is the Temptation of Christ in the Synoptic Gospels.) Failing at temptation, the Daemons instead kidnap Santa Claus; they lasso him as he is riding in his sleigh on Christmas Eve, and bind him in their caverns.

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