When Harry met Santa Claus: the message behind the Norwegian post notice that went viral around the world

It is a love at first sight that is nurtured year after year, with those brief moments in which they see each other, that they spend together. Both of them would like to extend them, but they cannot: duty calls and Santa Claus has to continue handing out gifts. Harry waits all year for that moment. It is specially arranged for the arrival of your friend. Until one day while waiting for the arrival of the punctual visitor, they ring the bell. When he opens he sees a young man from the Norwegian post office who brings him several packages: they are his Christmas gifts. Disappointment settles on his face, he crumbles. This year there will be no visit. As he returns to the living room of his house, devastated, without the least desire or anxiety to open those gifts, he finds Santa Claus in front of him. Thanks to the fact that from this year he asked the efficient post office of his country for help, he announced that they could spend more time together. They approach slowly, they come face to face and kiss. Santa Claus has a boyfriend.

Posten, the official Norwegian post, like every year, launched a Christmas advertisement. The one in 2021 went viral in no time. In just three days, the video on You Tube has already exceeded one and a half million visits. Tell a love story. Love stories always make a good combination with the Christmas spirit. There is to corroborate a movie like Love Actually, which became almost an annual necessity by the end of December. But this one, the one with the short advertisement called When Harry met Santa, tells of a homosexual love that is built slowly, tenderly and with desire with Santa Claus as one of the protagonists.

The Norwegian post wanted with this short to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the law that decriminalized homosexual relations in their country. In Norway it was not until 1972 that being homosexual was no longer considered a crime.

“It was a bad, dark year for everyone. A pandemic, warnings about the weather situation, refugee crises. Then we thought that maybe what was needed was a good love story, warm and heartfelt. What we celebrate is that in Norway, despite what happens in the world, you can love whoever you want ”said Monica Solberg, the marketing director for Posten, the Norwegian Post.

One of the pictures from Posten’s advertising short, the Norwegian Post, showing Santa Claus inclusive, in a homosexual relationship (Tim Lorenzen / Handout via REUTERS) (TIM LORENZEN /)

The Christmas advertisements of the Norwegian post are already something of a classic in their country. In 2019 it had a humorous tone and bordering on sacrilege, it played with grace and elegance, with the birth of Jesus and the virginity of Mary. Last year he was a very different Santa Claus from 2021. Making fun of Donald Trump’s angry tweets he featured a very angry Santa Claus, who discussed his frustration with an analyst. He was against modernity, against progress. He longed for the good old days when he came through chimneys and everyone was waiting for him. He believed that the Norwegian Post was unfair competition that was putting him out of work with its speed, predictability and efficiency. In the short of this year he reverses the strategy: the mail relieves him, it is the one that helps him, the accomplice that allows his love story.

The Posten, the Norwegian postal service, is a state-owned company employing 14,000 people. The quality of its service is recognized by its compatriots. It has 375 years of history. According to their spokespersons, what the video tries to do is show the flexibility of the service they provide, how it works 365 days a year and, of course, also provide an inclusive message.

“Ours is an inclusive workplace. With a lot of diversity. And we wanted to celebrate these fifty years with a beautiful love story ”, said the marketing director. The message the company gives is that everyone should be heard, that everyone deserves to be paid attention, to feel welcome, to be included. Without exceptions.

The video shows Harry, an adult man, who one year sees Santa Claus leave gifts on his tree and is captivated. From that moment, year after year, this man who loves his sister and niece, anxiously awaits the arrival of Christmas to share some moment with Santa Claus. In each celebration the relationship deepens, the appreciation seems mutual, but due to the obligations of the man in red the encounters are fleeting. A few words, at the most a shared coffee. Until one Christmas Harry waits anxiously for him in front of the fireplace, dressed in his best jacket until the house bell rings. At the door a young woman from the post office leaves her Christmas gifts. But Inside his house, Santa Claus was waiting for him, who had used the punctual mail from his country to be able to spend more time with him. At that moment, Harry and Santa Claus are kissing. The camera leaves the house and takes an aerial pan over the city that is flooded with trucks from the Posten doing the Christmas deliveries.

The four minute short it is a narrative prodigy. A priori it would seem long for a current advertisement where everything happens too fast and in short scenes to be able to develop a story with textures. From the title, When Harry Met Santa, his inspiration is evidenced by that classic romantic comedy that is When Harry Met Sally. It has plot similarities. A love that is built over the years and that takes shape when it seems that there was no longer hope. But that’s not the only pop culture reference in the ad piece. In the last letter that Harry writes to Santa Claus he writes “All I Want for Christmas is You” (All I want for Christmas is you). That is the title of a very well known song by Mariah Carey It is now a quarter of a century old and is one of the latest additions to the canon of Christmas songs, a very prolific genre, especially in the United States.

Be supposed to Santa Claus is inspired by Saint Nicholas of Bari, who died in 343. At the beginning of the 19th century, the American writer Washington Irving popularized Santa Claus in his work Knickerbocker’s History of New York. Santa Claus is someone who arrived by ship from the Old Continent who distributes gifts to the boys by throwing them down the chimneys.

Santa claus santa claus
Thomas Nast’s Santa Claus became the character’s icon

This character later became “The Guardian of New York” and his popularity was enormous. It took until 1864 for the image of this character to be unified. Thomas Nast in illustrations for Harper’s Weekly he drew him short, with elf features, old man, with his pipe and the characteristic costume. Until that moment each one drew it as it seemed to him. There were Santa Claus who were short, others tall, also skinny, fat, hairless, laughing or somewhat evil. Nast’s drawings spread quickly and his Santa Claus became the iconic image. Aged in kilos and years, with a gray beard, a huge handlebar mustache, a Dutch pipe and high cheekbones. As most of the posts were in black and white not everyone knew that the color of the suit was red with the pompom of the hat and the white belt. Many still painted it green.

The association of Santa Claus with a commercial brand is not new either. Already in 1931, Coca Cola commissioned the drawings of a campaign to the illustrator of Swedish descent Haddon Sundblom who definitely gave the character the current traits. A plump, personable, friendly and harmless old man. The myth maintains that the colors of his clothes were inspired by Coca Cola but the truth is that already in previous representations red and white were the colors of Santa Claus. Before the beginning of the 20th century, the legend of Santa Claus spread throughout the world. They all came knowing that he was arriving from the North Pole at Christmas, laden with gifts, with his reindeer-drawn sleigh and that he was leaving his presents to the boys house to house.

Before launching your annual notice those responsible for the Norwegian Post knew that their advertising could cause controversy, especially on social media. However, even though there was some rejection, the adhesion and admiration for the short film has been massive. It went viral in a few hours and despite the fact that the story is understood without having to understand what its protagonists say, it was subtitled into the most diverse languages.

However, some controversy arose. One of the accusations the filmmakers received was that he mixed politics with Christmas. The company categorically denied it. “In any case, the possibility of loving whoever you want should not be a political topic in modern societies anymore. It is a fundamental human right that everyone should recognize ”.

The other was that sexualized the image of Santa Claus. An accusation that no one would have made if the affair had kept him with a woman. In fact, Mama Claus or Mamá Noel is part of the mythology that surrounds Santa Claus for at least a century and a half.

san nicolas de bari santa claus departure
Santa Claus is supposed to be based on Saint Nicholas of Bari. However, in the previous representations, the saint was neither an old man, nor gray, nor with a beard nor with extra kilos. The configuration of Santa Claus with these characteristics occurred during the 19th century

The first appearance was in 1849 in the story A Christmas Legend by James Reed. And with his variations he continued as a faithful and devoted companion of Santa Claus throughout the years. Her representation was crystallized as an endearing little old woman, with gray hair, glasses, a white apron, who made sweets, housework and helped prepare gifts. Since the couple could not have children, they dedicated themselves to making the children of the world happy. with their Christmas presents that they prepared all year round at their home in the North Pole. In recent years, with the multiple films about the legend of Santa Claus, his figure was modernized. She became younger and more active but was always in the shadow of her husband.

In several of the discussions that arose on the networks regarding Norwegian advertising some wondered why there had never been a controversy about Santa’s relationship with his wife and why now they were provoked by a homosexual relationship as if sexual choice were not possible within these stories, characters or legends.

Mats Strandberg is a Norwegian actor and he was the one who complained the most energetically. In a tweet with a screenshot of the kiss that concludes the ad, he wrote: “Hey! That’s my husband kissing Santa Claus ”. Johan Ehn, the actor who plays Harry, is Strandberg’s husband in real life.

The truth is that these seem anachronistic discussions. And, especially, sterile. Any boy who is waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus, who is anxious for the gifts that in 27 days will leave him under his Christmas tree, does not care in the least the gender of the Santa Claus couple, and would naturally accept the love story that tells the advertising piece of the Norwegian post.


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