When Harry met Santa
A festive advertisement celebrates the freedom to love
Norway’s recent four-minute festive ad for its postal service, Posten Norge, features a gay Santa who falls in love. It has melted hearts across the world.
The ad, titled When Harry Met Santa, is a nod to the 1989 rom com When Harry Met Sally. In the Norwegian ad, Harry encounters Santa in his cosy Nordic living room. The two men lock eyes. As Santa disappears back up the chimney, the night sky lights up with fireworks.
Every year, Harry and Santa meet up, fleetingly. Santa is a busy man and has no time for romance. “I’ll miss you,” Harry tells Saint Nick one year. Frustrated, he sends him a letter. “Dear Santa,” he writes, “All I want for Christmas is you.”
The smitten Santa employs the Norwegian postal service to help him with his Christmas deliveries so he can spend time with Harry.
The tender film ends with a kiss. As the two men embrace, a message appears on screen. “In 2022, Norway marks 50 years of being able to love who we want.”
“This year it’s all about love,” Posten has said in an official statement. The ad highlights the fact that 2022 sees the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Norway.
The ad, which has gone viral, marks a key moment for LGBT equality and gay rights in the country.
The right to be seen
“Everyone should feel welcome, seen, heard and included,” Posten added.
The ad has met with approval across the globe.
“Strong and moving,” said Canadian MP Randall Garrison.
“Oh man I love Scandinavia,” tweeted former US ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford. “Imagine if the US Post Office put out an ad like this.”
Advertising usually reflects the consensus and hidden needs and desires of the public. Seeing such a progressive commercial in Norway not only reflects the open-mindedness of the Nordics but also helps us imagine an inclusive future for everyone.
For Christians, believing God gave Jesus to the world to atone for the sins of humanity is the primary purpose of celebrating Christmas. Homosexuality is still considered a sin by many conservative Christians. I find seeing a gay Santa is not only refreshing, but also inspirational and compassionate.
Sorry Santa, you’re too white, straight and male!
It’s great to see folklore and traditions moving with the times.
We’ve got the younger generations to thank for that.
According to a recent YouGov poll in the UK, 60 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds think it is “acceptable” for Santa to be gay. Among lesbian, gay and bisexual Britons, that figure rises to 76 per cent.
Coca-Cola invented the elderly white man in a red suit to sell its fizzy drink in the 1930s. His image suited the times. But it was a far cry from the original Saint Nicholas – a 4th-century bishop in Turkey.
Today, Christmas is a commercial affair. But it’s also about giving and sharing. It’s about being included.
It is time to move on
That’s why Charlotte Lewis founded Noir Kringle in the UK in 2019. She had wanted to take her daughter to an inclusive festive event, but a black Santa was nowhere to be seen.
“There were lots of places in America that did Black Santa grottos and house visits. I searched and searched for one here and then decided it was something that I was going to try and do myself.”
2021’s pop-up Noir Kringle grotto was a sell-out.
One thing I find particularly moving is the sense of loneliness experienced by the LGBTQ community in years gone by at Christmas – a time when many were excluded by their families and mainstream society. What’s more, adverts and media portrayals of white heterosexual families celebrating the festive season only accentuated the feeling of being left out. So seeing the inclusive message of Posten Norge and other signs acknowledging how far the world has come brings hope and gratitude for our future.
I know of one man who would have endorsed Norway’s celebration of the freedom to love whoever we choose: the gay Anglo-American poet WH Auden (1907-1973).
By coincidence, Auden once wrote a poem called Night Mail about the British postal service for a 1936 documentary of the same name.
But he also wrote a beautiful poem about the frailty of love, called Anthem for St Cecilia’s Day. It speaks to all of us wanting to be cherished for who we are. These two lines are unforgettable:
“I shall never be
Different. Love me.”