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Bad Santas

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Santarchy – New Extremes In Holiday Rebellion


By James Donahue

Dec. 20, 2005


Unorthodox behavior by mobs of people dressed in cheap Santa costumes are gaining the attention of the media all over the world this holiday season as protesters find interesting new ways to resist the commercialism of the Yule season.


The rampages appear to be an organized, or perhaps a disorganized movement known as Santarchy, where large numbers of Santas go on public drinking sprees, urinate in public streets, throw beer bottles on passing cars, spray graffiti on buildings and even commit robberies among their mischievous deeds.


The origin of Santarchy seems to have been a subversive art group in San Francisco calling itself the Cacophony Society that staged the very first SantaCon in 1994. The group decided to celebrate the holiday in a distinctly anti-commercial way, mixing guerilla street theater, pranksterism and public intoxication.


The idea was to gather a mob of as many willing people as they could find to dress in cheap Santa costumes and perform publicly on the streets, in bars, and in public places. The focus was the spontaneity, creativity and improvisational nature of human interaction while having a good time.


Mixing alcohol with the show, however, the display quickly turned into bawdy if not borderline illegal behavior. The group sang naughty carols, passed out condoms and other adult-oriented gifts, and eventually carried behavior beyond the limits of social acceptance.


The concept of Kringle Kaos caught on and Santarchy has since become a global phenomenon. Groups in different cities seem to have their own flavor of behavior, often coming in conflict with the law.


This week, a mob of about 40 drunken Santas ran amuck in Auckland, New Zealand, raiding stores, assaulting security guards and urinating from highway overpasses. They also threw beer bottles, overturned rubbish bins and sprayed graffiti on office buildings. A number of Santas entered a store, yelled “Merry Christmas” to the shop keepers, then carried off beer and soft drinks. One man climbed the mooring line of a cruise ship before he was ordered down by the captain.


Police said they had a problem identifying who did what because everybody was dressed in the same outfit. Both men and women were involved, police said.


Other reports of “bad Santas” have been drifting in from Europe as well.


One Santa armed with a gun held up a furniture store in Ludwigshafen, Germany. After filling his sack with cash from the safe, he locked the two female store clerks in the safe before escaping. This one got away, but police said they nabbed a bank robbing Santa brandishing a toy machine gun in Tuebingen, Germany.


Another Santa was stopped by police driving 90 miles an hour down a German motorway. He told police he was in a hurry because he had packages to deliver. The cops didn’t think it was funny.


And in England, the police are searching for a Santa that is going around “flashing” himself in front of women.




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