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Santas in Training: Vintage Photos of Santa Claus Schools by Alfred Eisenstaedt and Ralph Morse

Where do bearded, bellied, good-natured men who want to be Santa Clauses get their cheery skills for the Christmas season? Why, in Santa Claus schools, of course! LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt and Ralph Morse once showed the world what happens in these uncommon schools, so let's revisit their interesting photos after the jump!

Many of us have fond childhood memories of jolly ol’ Santa Claus spreading the Christmas cheer around town (and of course, granting our most fervent wishes). But, perhaps you didn’t know that your town’s very own Santa Claus — or Father Christmas — went through some rigorous training to acquire the look, skills, and bearing of the iconic figure of the festive season. Where else, but in a Santa Claus School!

Yes, you read it right — there’s such a thing as a school for wanna-be Santa Clauses. Possibly the oldest of these unique learning institutions is the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, which was established in 1937. Research tells us that aspiring Santa Clauses had to take 5-day courses involving practice sessions, putting on costume and make-up, and other important skills before they could land a Yuletide employment.

If we managed to catch your attention at this point, then, we hope we can keep you interested enough to get you clicking through the Santa School photos snapped by LIFE photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt and Ralph Morse. Eisenstaedt took the black and white shots in Albion, New York in November 1961, and Morse took the amusing color photos showing aspiring Santas in a classroom setting.

All information and photos for this article were sourced from LIFE Photo Archive Hosted by Google.

written by plasticpopsicle

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