How Long Have Kids Been Getting Their Pictures Taken with Santa?
Both photography and the more “modern” interpretation of Santa Claus began to really take off in the 1820s. But when did the perfect union between the two blossom into the Christmas tradition we know and love today?
According to the History Channel, local shops began leveraging Santa Claus in their marketing around the 1840s. Life-sized models would be set up in their windows and attract kids from all around. But it wasn’t until 1890 in Massachusetts that a man named James Edgar began making live appearances as Santa in his department store. A tradition was instantly born. Kids could tell Santa what they wanted, get a picture taken, and their guardians would know right then and there what to buy in the store.
This old website that has been preserved by archive.org shows a little history of kids getting their pictures with department store Santas throughout the years (staring in 1918). It’s amazing to see how much costumes have changed and become more consistent over time. Be sure to notice just how awful fake beard technology used to be too.
As time has passed, the tradition of getting your picture taken with Santa has become more and more ingrained in popular culture, showing up in a number of movies like Elf and A Christmas Story:
For the past 125+ years (and countless years to come), photographers and Christmas have matched up together like milk and cookies, documenting memories that will last a lifetime.