For most of us, Father Christmas is a chubby, bearded bloke known for bringing joy the world over as he dumps presents down chimneys at a speed defying the laws of physics.
But for an eccentric and disparate bunch of conspiracy theorists, he’s the embodiment of oppressive capitalism, designed to snatch cash from the poor.
And that’s not all – a particularly bizarre set of beliefs about the jolliest legend of them all holds that he’s a Satanic invention of the Illuminati.
The Illuminati pop up in countless conspiracy theories describing a sinister cabal of powerful people who exert their influence while remaining anonymous.
People claim to see their symbols everywhere – from dollar bills to rapper Jay Z’s hand gestures.
But what LA Weekly famously dubbed the “Santanic” conspiracy theory doesn’t just scrape the barrel – it breaks through the base.
It posits that the group, which emerged in Bavaria in 1776, deliberately undermined the true message of Christmas by creating Santa.
The theory points to the fact that his name is an anagram of Satan to evidence his supposedly demonic purpose.
What purpose? To dilute the Christian message of the Festive season, which celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
Santa, they say, was conjured up to encourage present-giving among the poor. By convincing kids to expect gifts every year on December 25th, parents are forced to part with their hard-earned dosh.
The theory goes that this is designed to take capital away from those who need it, redirecting it to greedy corporations who churn out toys and other treats, all the while undermining the solidarity that religion can provide to the powerless.
Bonkers believers say that, when the Illuminati crafted their capitalist creature in one of their many smoke-filled lairs, they even left cheeky clues as to his diabolical character.
We’ve already mentioned the similarity between Santa and Satan. But they also claim that his red-coloured suit is a nod to the traditional colour of the Devil himself.
Then there’s the fact that Claus is the old English name for hoof-claws, the kind that are found on goats and, in some folklore, the Devil.
However, as conspiracy expert CR Berry points out, these strange links overlook crucial facts.
He writes: “Everyone knows that Santa Claus is the Americanisation of Sinterklaas.
“It happened after the descendants of Dutch settlers in America resurrected the Sinterklaas tradition. Over time, this figure merged with the British Father Christmas so that nowadays Father Christmas and Santa Claus are synonymous.
“And having researched the etymology of Claus, I can say with confidence, whoever says that Claus is the Old English word for ‘hoof-claws’ is talking out of their ar**.”
Inconsistencies such as these don’t stop hard-liners, however. Dr Terry Watkins at Dial-the-Truth Ministries famously unleashed his own theory on the origin of the name Santa Clause.