Who you callin' a "ho," Santa?

Jolly Old Saint Nick muzzled in Australia.


Katharine Mieszkowski
November 21, 2007 12:03AM (UTC)

It's not even Thanksgiving yet. You still haven't decided if you're making yams or creamed spinach this year. In short, you're prepared to hurl a fistful of uncooked stuffing my way for mentioning anything associated with C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S, but I will have to take my chances because this story is truly too good to pass up.

Santas in Sydney, Australia, have been discouraged from greeting children with a traditional "ho, ho, ho" this holiday season, according to Agence France-Presse via Cookie. Apparently, a U.S.-based recruitment firm, Westaff, warned the jolly fellows it hired to play Santa Claus this year that chortling "ho, ho, ho" could frighten children. Besides, it's too close to "ho," the American slang for prostitute, which might be offensive to women, such as the moms who've brought their children to sit on Santa's lap.

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Even an Australian activist for a group called Kids Free 2B Kids, which strives to keep children innocent of naughty matters as long as possible, finds the very notion preposterous. "Gimme a break," said Julie Gale, a campaigner with the group. "We are talking about little kids who do not understand that 'ho, ho, ho' has any other connotation and nor should they. Leave Santa alone." You said it, Julie.

Bizarrely, Westaff encouraged its Santas to substitute "ha, ha, ha" for "ho, ho, ho." Um, are the executives at Westaff confusing Santa and his elves with the jubilant inhabitants of the Merry Old Land of Oz? Nevermind. The international stink raised about the muzzling of Mr. Claus has apparently salvaged the traditional greeting; Westaff will now allow its Santas to rumble "ho, ho, ho" again.

Whew! Santa's free to be Santa, Christmas is saved, the Grinch is vanquished, and it's not even Thanksgiving yet.

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Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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