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International Santa Claus - A Study - Part 3 - Santa Bones

Hello and welcome to the third installment of -International Santa Claus - A Study-.  Once again, I am undoubtedly your host, Dr. Desmond Morales.

Dr. Desmond Morales

 The "Santa Claus" is a pervasive theme sprinkled throughout all the lands that have been touched by the eager hand of Christianity.  Every culture has their own unique interpretation.   Today we are exploring the practices of an elusive tribe from Papua, New Guinea, the Korowai.

The Korowai are a small tribe of people from southeastern Papua.  It is commonly thought that they were an undiscovered tribe until 1970.  Little do people know, in 1932 a small group of missionaries became lost in the vast jungles of Papua.  They eventually encountered the Korowai people.  The Korowai were wary at first, but soon warmed up to the missionaries and their delicious food. 

During the following weeks the missionaries and the Korrowai were able to establish a crude dialogue.  The missionaries began their biblical teachings much to the confusion of the Korowai. 

The weeks leading up to Christmas were full of stories of Jesus Christ and Santa Claus.  Sally Masterbilt, one of the missionaries, was from New York and was infatuated with the American Santa Claus.  She spoke very fast and constantly to any villager that would listen.  The Korowai became very confused by the little that they understood from the visitors.

On Christmas eve, Sally told the villagers that Santa was coming that night and tomorrow was Jesus' birthday.  The villagers broke into a panic all of the villagers taking up spears and shouting.  The missionaries were corralled and ritualistically executed by the Korowai. 

The meat was stripped from the Sally's bones and a crude statue was erected.  They clothed the statue in red feathers and created a wispy, white feather beard.  Every year, around Christmas, the Korowai repair their bone sculpture and replace the suit of feathers. 

In 1982, Anthropologist Stacey Hunt, asked the Korowai about the strange totem.  It seems that the Korowai misunderstood the stories that were told to them by the missionaries.  They thought that Jesus and Santa were mortal enemies and they had to choose a side in the battle or be destroyed by God.  When Sally Masterbilt said that Santa was coming to the village, the Korowai knew they had to decide. 

The Korowai chose to fight under the banner of Santa Claus.  The Korowai were amazed by his ability to fly and his omnipotence.  They dressed the bones of a follower of Jesus like Santa as a ward to fend off Jesus.  Every Christmas, the Korowai sit with eyes full of fear, spears in hand, waiting for the year when Santa forsakes them and Jesus finally comes.

Santa Bones hates Jesus.