148: The Angels Wanna Wear My Red Suit
Dec 24, 1999
A special Christmas edition of our show, with stories about Santa Claus—the many many different versions of Santa Claus. It was in America, in New York, that people started believing in the modern idea of Santa—a guy who comes down the chimney with a sack of goodies. But America has invented a few other Santas as well.
- Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Nissenbaum, author of a history called The Battle for Christmas, which explains when people started believing in a Santa who arrives Christmas Eve carrying presents. It was in 1822, and incredibly, the poem that created our modern idea of Santa is still around, known by heart by tens of millions. (8 minutes)
- What if do-gooders patrolled department stores, keeping tabs on the Santas? We hear this story, of The Most Fantastic Crimefighter The World Has Ever Known: Chickenman. Recorded for This American Life by Dick Orkin, Christine Coyle and Rod Roddy at the Radio Ranch in Los Angeles. All the various voices are played by Orkin and Coyle—with Roddy announcing. (4 minutes)
- Students in a French language class in Paris try to explain holiday customs to a woman from Morocco, and somehow everything they describe sounds utterly improbable. A true story from writer David Sedaris, recorded before a live audience at a reading for City Arts and Lectures in San Francisco. (10 minutes)