The origin and science behind Santa's Beard December 24, 2014 11:58 1 Comment
Before the inception of Pugilist Brand Beard Care products, the original 'Father Christmas' figure dates back to 17th century England. Most pictures of Father Christmas before 1880 showed him wearing a big green coat. He wasn't much a gift-giver: he preferred going from house to house, feasting with random families.
In Dutch traditions, Sinter Klaas wears bishops robes and goes around the country finding out which children have been good or bad.
This legendary figure merged with Sinter Klaas once they both arrived to the New World.
STRANDS OF EVIDENCE
If we had a sample of Santa's beard, what could it tell us? Dr Raniero De Stasio, scientific director of L'Oréal UK and Ireland, reveals all:
Is his white beard natural or bleached?
"Bleached hair is very easy to spot, as there is a structural layer outside the hair cuticle cells that is lost forever with just one peroxide treatment. So, if Santa is using dye, we could spot it instantly by looking at a single hair under the microscope."
How old is he?
"This can be revealed by analysing his telomeres - structures at the ends of chromosomes that fray away with age. It would be best if the root of the hair was attached, so that more genetic material from active, live cells would be available."
Is he originally from Lapland?
"By analysing DNA from the hair and matching it to populations from different parts of Europe, we could settle the long-running debate as to where Santa comes from. With luck, you could even find a bit of his family genealogy."
Does he really drink the spirits that are left out for him?
"Hair grows about a centimetre per month, so assuming Santa's beard hairs are at least 12cm long, we would be able to find a spike of tannins which corresponded to heavy port intake a year ago. This might even allow scientists to speculate if Santa prefers port or brandy from year to year."
Does he live at the North Pole?
"Hair is a 'sponge', so by studying hair pollution data from various parts of the world and then matching the profile to various 'slices' of the hair fibre we could tell approximately where Santa has been each month of the year. As the air is very clean in Lapland, his hair would probably be very clean, with a spike of pollutants at Christmas time."
What does he eat?
"We can tell if he has a balanced diet, or likes a particular type of food (eg meat or vegetables), by testing the amount of trace metals normally found in various foods and matching it to the beard hair. My guess would be that Santa would not be a big venison eater, as it would remind him of Rudolph."
- 'Can Reindeer Fly? The Science of Christmas' by Roger Highfield (Orion) is available for £7.99 + 99p p&p. To order, please call Telegraph Books on 0870 428 4112.
- Taken from the following article http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/3319142/Science-The-death-of-Santas-beard.html