Which of Shakespeare’s Friends Created Father Christmas?

HuffPo’s article on “Literary Connections to Christmas” hit my radar because Nahum Tate, who gave King Lear a happy ending, also wrote the Christmas Carol “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.” I’m not even sure I know that one.

But keep reading, loyal geeks, because the fun fact comes later in the list:

The term ‘Father Christmas’ — used to refer to the personification of the festive season, a bit like ‘Old Father Time’ — first turns up in a 1616 masque … [featuring] old man ‘Christmas,’ attended by all ten of his children, whose names include Carol, Wassail, Misrule, and Minced-Pie.

Guessed which contemporary?  No fair if you already knew.  It’s 1616 so it’s probably not Marlowe, what with him being dead and all.  Speaking of dead, it’s also probably not Edward de Vere, though that won’t stop him from laying claim to the credit.

The friend of our beloved Shakespeare who brought us the term Father Christmas was none other than Ben Jonson.