By LAO SHOUXING
XIAN (China Daily Show) – He may seem as American as apple pie and as much a part of Christmas as the latest Call of Duty, but the real Santa Claus was actually Chinese according to one expert.
Using information found in his attic, and backed-up by extensive research among his neighbors, historian and sanitation worker Lin Kang has traced Santa’s history to 223 BC — and the Middle Kingdom.
Lord Shang Ke was an ancient figure, most famous as the first man to codify China’s legal system in his Book of Law. Santa Claus is most likely a Roman bastardization of ‘Shang Ke’s Laws,’ Lin believes.
Said to have roamed the country during the early Qin Dynasty, dispatching “bribes to those who were naughty and punishments to those who were nice,” Shang is revered in Legalism schools today as the father of Chinese autocracy.
But the draconian Shang was also famed for ramming dissenting scholars into chimneys and roasting them alive, and enslaving Japanese tourists — or “dwarf people” — to do his bidding.
Lin says these traditions were misunderstood by Westerners, who instead depicted Shang Ke — or “Santa” — as an avuncular figure, whose elf-run workshops deposited Japanese-made electronic goods on the hearths of well-behaved children.
“Shang ran a sweatshop and he ran it good,” Lin told China Daily Show. “The irony is, the tradition has now come full circle. We Chinese churn out cheap, lead-based goods to be consumed by gullible foreign children. As a consequence, we’re the world’s number-one export economy. Shang would probably have approved — but if he didn’t, he’d have chopped your head off.”
The real-life Shang was eventually executed after falling out of imperial favor, supposedly torn asunder by horses. Lin speculates this might explain the “reindeer thing.”
The tradition was most likely stolen by foreigners during the chaotic civil war that followed the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911, Lin theorizes. Visiting executives from the fledgeling Coca Cola Company allegedly paid 400 taels for the recipe to an ancient medicinal brew called kela – the story of Lord Shang was later appropriated by the Shanghai firm’s advertising department.
“Western barbarians stole our land, our precious artifacts and our tyrannical historical figures,” Lin lamented. “They can keep the vases, but we want the good stuff back.”
Shang’s modern ancestors have now announced they intend to sue Coca Cola for copyright infringement — but IPR lawyers suggest the family may be willing to settle the case instead for a large quantity of Sprite.
And while some scholars have questioned the veracity of his claims, Lin says documents proving his theory have been authenticated by none other than noted historians Hugh Trevor-Roper and Gavin Menzies.
Follow this and other breaking China news @chinadailyshow on Twitter