I’ve heard both sides of the Santa Claus celebration argument. I don’t have kids, but I think I’d still tell them about Santa if I did. Although I’m a Christian, I think we have many traditions that are not “Christian” in nature (like decorating trees and baking cookies) and, as long as we’re upfront with the info, it’s okay to celebrate in a variety of ways.
According to History.com: “the legend of Santa Claus can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk named St. Nicholas. It is believed that Nicholas was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey. This St. Nicholas was much admired for his piety and kindness, and became the subject of many legends. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth and traveled the countryside helping the poor and sick.”
This is part of the reason we give gifts today and seek to show others the love and kindness we feel inside. If you’re a Christian – do you not give gifts at this time of year? Do you hold to only Christian tradition? If so, what does that mean? You know this means you shouldn’t even have a nativity scene, either, right? (The bulk of those are wrong, too, and do not show a true depiction of Christ’s birth.)(PS – The three wise men were not present at His birth.)
Santa Claus (this name derived from the Dutch “Sinter Klaas”) as we know him today has evolved from other pagan holidays and rituals as well and has become an icon during the holidays for mass marketing throughout the world. However, the jolly St. Nick we know came from a story by Washington Irving in 1809 in his first book, “A History of New York.” This work, a satire, written under a pseudonym, launched Washington as well as the red-suited fat man we know today as Santa Claus. And it wasn’t about spending as much as you could at the holidays. (See here.)
Usually, if you’re a Christian, Santa Claus has little meaning in your celebrations. Although you probably knew him as a child, your Christian beliefs soon changed your focus to the Baby Jesus, instead. But did you know that Christmas itself does not really derive from Christ’s birth? The holiday was started by the Catholic Church and is not anywhere near the, probably, correct date of when Jesus was born. The church simply started this celebration to combat other Pagan celebrations of the time.
I think if I did have kids, I’d share true stories about the origins of things – like reading part of that Irving story as well as the story of Jesus’ birth from the Book of Luke. If we wish to show a true picture of why we celebrate like we do, then we need to be truthful of those origins. We can still celebrate all aspects of Christmas as long as we’re aware why we celebrate the way we do.
Let’s not lie to ourselves like we so often do with our children. Santa Claus isn’t evil, Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas day, and cookies are yummy, but aren’t really good for us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate in our own unique ways and include a variety of these traditions in doing so.