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(Cheryl Carlin)

Photos: The Scariest Santas You'll Ever See

Browse our selected illustrations of some of the strangest and creepiest Santa Clauses ever put down on paper and then vote for your favorite

Smoking Santa

Smoking Santa
(Image by PoodlesRock/Corbis)

It may seem odd that Santa is smoking and touching his nose in this illustration from an 1888 version of Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” later called “The Night Before Christmas.” But the verses of Moore’s poem, first published in 1822, mention both habits. “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,” writes Moore. In a later stanza, he adds, “And laying his finger aside of his nose, And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!”

Moore borrowed these traits from an earlier description. Washington Irving wrote about St. Nicholas smoking a clay pipe and “laying his finger beside his nose” to magically disappear in A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty in 1809.

Would you have nightmares if he fell down your chimney? Vote for this scary Santa!

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