Meet Rasta Claus – Britain’s coolest and first ever rastafarian Santa Claus.
Dread-locked Cleve Freckleton donned Santa’s hat and garbs after being asked to step in as Father Christmas at the school where he worked.
Music teacher Cleve, 54, did not want to confuse kids who traditionally think of Santa as a big, white guy with a big white beard.
So he created Rasta Claus – Santa’s cooler cousin – who comes complete with long dreads, a love of reggae music and a distinct West Indian flavour.
Rasta Claus first made an appearance in 2012 at Delia’s Special School in Bradford where he was teaching music with special needs children.
Cheerful Cleave, who lives in Leeds, West Yorks., said: “The kids I worked with had special needs, with autism and such, so I didn’t want to go in there and confuse anybody.
“So instead I decided to create a whole new Christmas character with his own back story.”
The resulting Rasta Claus is the child of Father Time and Mother Nature and even has his own motto: “Give a lickle back”.
Rasta welcomes the children into a grotto, where they have to find a golden coin given by Mother Africa.
Only when they find the coin can they harvest it and a gift be produced.
Cleve, who is originally from Jamaica, said: “I wanted to spread the message that if you give something to the earth, you can get something back.
“My thinking was more ecological, in that it is important to be giving to the earth, to be planting seeds to be able to give to the earth in order to get something back.
“Rather than just asking what the kids want for Christmas, it is also about what they would like to give for Christmas.”
His character has gone down so well that this year he has been inundated with appearances.
Cleve said: “It is so lovely to be in character and see the happiness of people’s faces, young and old.
“I see people and kids from all backgrounds and faiths, it is lovely to put aside all the world’s problems and cultural divisions and create moments that are beautiful.”
On Sunday and Monday Rasta Claus made an appearance at a festive event organised by baby rave company Boomchikkaboom called the Festive Family Lock In.
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