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December 9, 2009

Santa Claus and Christmas

Is talking about Santa harmless fun?

I have a friend who loves the Santa Claus tradition at Christmas. She and her husband go to great lengths to convince their children that Santa Claus exists. They make prints in the snow (including on their roof), leave a little pile of coal dust in their living room, and consume the cookies and milk left for the jolly, old man.

Another friend refuses to have anything about Santa around the house. She feels that it takes away from the true message of Christmas and only confuses her kids.

So what’s right? Is Santa Claus harmless fun or in direct opposition to Christ? The debate could go on forever, but I have a few thoughts on the matter. Feel free to take them with a grain of salt and let me know what you think.

Santa Claus is an impossible character to ignore in our society from mid-November to the end of December. He is splashed everywhere on TV, billboards, magazine ads, internet commercials, and is even used as a selling agent on infomercials. And I have to admit, I like the idea of the old guy. Who wouldn’t like someone who leaves you presents in a magical way?

That said, I can see some harm in the whole idea as well. I remember a young boy whose parents went through a bitter divorce before Christmas. His mother had very little money, but she found a used coat with a sports team she thought her son would like. She wrote on the tag that it was from Santa Claus. When I asked the boy what he got for Christmas, he said bitterly, “Santa gave me an old, used coat. Why would he do that?”

So I fall somewhere in the middle. I like having fun with Santa, but I never try to convince a child that he is real. I love telling kids the basis for the Santa Claus story in the traditional tales of St. Nicholas. And it’s hard to beat the cadence and charm of “A Night Before Christmas.” But I treat the whole subject of Santa Claus the way I would a fairy tale. It’s a story of great charm and fun, but it just isn’t real. And like fairy tales, it introduces us to a magical world where wrongs are righted and the smallest, most overlooked person gets rewarded for their good behavior. Perhaps in those tales, we discover a longing for a savior who will right all wrongs and forgive us even when our behavior is more “naughty” than “nice.”

What do you think?

Related Tags: Christmas

Comments

Santa is hard to ignore, you're absolutely right. But why decorate one's house & devote a season to a fairy tale when there's truth to be told, even to (especially to!) children? I'm wondering if anybody decorates their houses w/ other fairy tales or perpetuates their myths. I have seen Mother Goose nurseries; we do read fairy tales to our children & even go to fairy tale theme parks (Disney, etc.), but Mickey Mouse or Alice in Wonderland or Santa Claus may be all good & positive images, but they aren't God, and Christmas is all about Christ. Anything else, to me, would take the honour & devotion away from Him. It would be like celebrating something else on your birthday (says one whose b'day falls on the same day as halloween). No, Santa doesn't come to this Granny's house, & the grandkids helped me set up my creche before anything else went up. It is Christ, & Christ alone, we celebrate at Christmas. :-)

Awesome story, I did not thought reading this would be so stunning when I read your url!!

I grew up with sata clause and I think it is fine we find out for ourselves durning our lifetime what is true and not true. Life is to short and its nice to make believe once in awhile.

Some years ago I decided not to present Santa as anything other than something we pretend on Christmas. Our advent calendar is from Fischer Price and the kids add a new velcro figure to it each day. We have an advent wreath and a creche they can play with. My reason? I once heard a man say, "My parents told me that Santa was real. He knew if I was good or bad. He could do cool "miracles". Then I learned that Santa wasn't real. If they lied to me about Santa, how do I know they aren't lying to me about Jesus?" From the word go, my kids know we are Santa and that we can pretend to be Santa Claus for others - based on the St. Nickolaus tradition. We no longer decorate with Santa things, but point out to the kids how Santa takes the place of Jesus for some people.

I grew up believing in Santa, and I remember being crushed when I realized he wasn't real. I thought, if Santa is a lie, what else is too? We teach our kids to believe in a magical man who leaves presents in the night, and we also teach them to believe in a God that they cannot physically see. When they discover the truth, how do we tell them that we lied to them about Santa, but God is still real? The idea of lying to my children just doesn't sit well with me. I plan on reading the stories and discussing Santa with my children, and the lessons about giving that we can take from it, but at the same time letting them know that it is just a fairy tale.

Having grown up with Santa and the church, I certainly see how confusing this issue can be. What we have done in our family is to describe Santa as a spirit of giving, as much as possible. We tell our girls that the spirit of Santa brings gifts to remind us of the greatest gift God ever gave us in the birth of His Son, Jesus Christ. They hear the term "secret santa" and we have explained the spirit of giving that people have and how they do for one another. Our home reflects the true meaning of Christmas in that we have nativities in each room and we use the time leading up to Christmas to talk about what it meant for us when Jesus was born and when He died. in our home, Santa is portrayed more as "giving" because God gave to us. I realize that all of this could be explained without the jolly man in a red suit but my husband and I have decided to incorporate some of our childhood memories, while trying not to take the focus off of Jesus.

I agree with the author and we treat it as a fun fairy tale. For us personally, when we started our family we decided that perpetuating Santa was wrong because it broke the very basic principle that we don't ever want to lie to our kids. However, we also tell our kids that we need to respect other families traditions and are careful not to spoil it for othes so long as they don't have to lie to do so. We still take them to sit on Santa's lap and sing the Rudolph song :)

I never hid Santa from my daughter or granddaughters. However, we have nativity scenes and know that the reason for Christmas is to celebrate Jesus's birth. We were told and I passed this on, that we give presents, some come from unknown (Santas) to those we care for in the honor of Jesus's birthday. But usually the kids woke up with, "Happy Birthday, Jesus!!!!" Then afterwards, it was a "Thank you, God!!" So Santa played a role, but was not THE role. Jesus is and will always be.

I appreciate your thoughts about what to make of Santa. I also feel quite squeamish about lying to children and just decided not to do it. You are right that Santa is quite tangible to young children, though, and an explanation is needed. I decided to help my children understand by telling them that Santa is like the clown at a birthday party. He can make the party really fun and surprise us in many ways, but the party is all about the birthday person, not all about the clown. Christmas is Jesus’ birthday, and I really like to celebrate it as such. For our young children, we lighted candles on a special cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus at our Christmas dinner table. We did not mark any gifts “from Santa” but if they received something from others marked that way, we just let them know that the giver wanted to give without the kids knowing who it was. Like the clown at a birthday party, Santa can pass out the gifts, and everyone enjoys the festivities. As for why we receive gifts instead of the “birthday boy,” Jesus, you can talk about how Jesus is pleased when we show love to others, and when people receive gifts given with love, it feels to Jesus like he received it himself (Matthew 25:40). May God bless all of you as you enjoy the holidays with your families!

Well santa does come to this Nanny's house. I didn't lie to my children and I don't lie to my grandchildren. They enjoy every fantasy of Santa. If they ask me if he is real I merely ask them what they think and leave it at that. We have a creche and celebrate the birth of Christ also. I find it interesting when people say that telling children about Santa can affect their ability to believe in God. It hasn't seemed to stop those people who said their parents told them about Santa, it seems that they are believers. Each to their own.

This very subject has been on my mind alot lately. My 9 yo has started asking alot whether or not Santa is real. I always ask her "what so you think?" and let her lead the conversation and through this I have found that she desparately wants to believe that Santa is real. She has a 6 yo sister with special needs and so the things that she deals with in life are a bigger burden than the average 9yo. Santa has always been a lovely promise of the season. She needs a little ezcape from the harshness of her everday world and I have been reluctant to shtter that dream for her. But being a Christian, I have always focused on Jesus in the holiday. If I had it all to do again, I am not sure that I would teach my daughters that Santa is real other than as the "spirit" of Christmas that we should all show to those around us. As my daughter gets older and her relationship with Christ becmes deeper, I pray that I haven't created something that will cause her to doubt the validity of her Heavenly Father.

Sometimes as human beings, we want to give all sorts of excuses for following unchristian (or more specific, un Christ-like) traditions such as santa claus, simply because “everyone is doing it”. Activities may range from creating a mystical santa to engaging in all sorts of vices during the festive season. As a result, focus on the birth of Jesus Christ becomes more and more of a shadow. I personally check every culture’s history and whether it’s in conformity to worshipping Christ. And many elements of the santa claus tradition are unrelated to Christ.

I just wonder what God would say about our following of the human tradition and compromise with the world's facination...

I grew up in a very traditional, conservative, Christian home. Christmas always was and still is a HUGE event in my family. As to Sants - I am 46 years old and I still have very vivid, happy memories of the "Santa years". One of our Christmas traditions was to go out on Christmas Eve and drive around and look at the Christmas lights and listen to the Santa updates on the radio. We did the whole "leave cookies and milk out for Santa" routine. I also grew up with the "Tooth Fairy". It never occurred to me that my parents had "lied" to me about these things or the Easter Bunny. Instead I cherish the wonderful memories of the family fun and good times from my childhood. God did not see fit to make me a parent. However if he had, I would not even consider depriving my children of the same cherished experiences that my parents provided me and my sister. Kids grow up so fast and are exposed to so much negative influence at such an early age. It breaks my heart to think that so many are denied the warm, loving family memories that I hold so dear. These memories have been uplifting to me in dark times in my life. I think that I would have resented my parents far more for denying me these types of experiences rather than being angry that they "lied" to me about them.

When I was a child, yes I did believe in Santa Claus. When I was older and found out the truth, I soon began to wonder if God was real. I felt so alone. Yeas later, when visiting a friend, her 5 year old son confided in me that he and his brothers and sisters knew there was really no Santa, as his mom and dad had taught them, but it was fun to listen to his Mom and Dad putting things under the tree for them. He was so excited, and then he was off to bed. Years later, when my DH and I had children, we also taught them that Santa is pretend, but they still got a gift from him. The kids just liked the idea of pretending(what kid doesn't?) We did raise them to know that Jesus is Lord. They have never said they wished we had let them believe in Santa. My DH and I did not want to lie to our children. Just seeing another one, who knew the truth about Santa, but was still excited about Christmas, really helped me.
elizabeth

I grew up believing in Santa, but after getting saved as an adult, and learning truth, I cannot condone this practice any longer. I have taken away all references to Santa in our home, and my children understand why. The ONLY reason we celebrate Christmas is because of the birth of JESUS. It's all about HIM. All these other things disguise the real meaning. There is no compromising here.

I STILL believe in Santa Claus. Santa never takes away from the "real" meaning of Christmas. He was a Christian too, and a much more generous one than most Christians today. Childhood is about fantasy. As children mature, they learn to differential fantasy from reality -- except me! As I said, I still believe! Santa is a vital part of our Christmas tradition and teaches us to be generous to others.
What a shame that mother put Santa's name on the used coat and ruined the child's Christmas!
I pity those who cannot see the Christian value of Santa. I am sure that St. Nicholas would have much to say on this topic!

Actually, Santa Claus was a bishop in 4th century Turkey. He used to give gifts to poor families-especially to children. Perhaps this would be a good way of explaining Santa Claus and showing what it means to live a true life of faith.

I wonder if the commenters who do not "do" Santa have a Christmas Tree? The Christmas tree also has nothing to do with the birth of Christ, it was actually a pagan celebration incorporated into Christian tradition as people were converted. And if you want to be "truthful" the birth of Christ shouldn't even be celebrated in December. Historically the taxation period is in the spring. My children do know this and can explain the entire history behind it as well as why we have the Christmas tree incorporated into the tradition of the holiday.
We do "do" Santa and I would not have it any other way. Just as Helen said, it never occurred to me to view it as my parents lying to me. We also enjoyed the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy...my children do too.
I grew up in an atheist household. Talk about parents lying...that certainly, in my book, is the greatest lie of all.
So in spite of growing up with Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Christmas trees, and many other "untruths." I managed to find the Truth. Funny how God sees fit to touch my heart and open my eyes in spite of those things. It is too bad people cannot trust Him to give the truth to their children...

My mother did not have a saving knowledge of Christ when I was a child. She was a single mom who worked full-time as a secretary to barely support us. We lived marginally above the poverty line and there were no frills throughout the year. But at Christmas, my mother would go all out. I won’t go into all the details of her efforts, except to say they most definitely included Santa Claus, reindeers, and waking up on Christmas morning to find only remnants of the cookies and milk I had left out for Ole’ St. Nick. Later in life, I came to know the Lord and began an intimate relationship with Him. I came to detest Christmas for its utter disregard for Christ, the Savior, and for all the stress it seemed to bring forth in the world. Santa and snowmen were banished from my home, but nativity scenes and wise men were plentiful. I begrudgingly allowed the Christmas tree only because my husband wanted it. However, snowflakes and icicles did not adorn it because, as I bitterly announced, “There was no snow in Bethlehem when Jesus was born!” Basically, I leached all the joy out of the Christmas season. In 2008, my precious mother accepted Christ as her savior. Seven weeks later, Jesus took her home. I know I will see my mother again, but in the meantime, I am left with so many wonderful memories. And the ones I cherish the most are of all our Christmas days together. That’s when my mother was positively radiant with joy. And a huge part of that joy came from her belief in the magic of Santa and in doing everything possible to get me to buy into that story. The Santa my mother introduced to me may be a fictional character, but she certainly portrayed him as a noble gent with a right heart, pure motives, a lovely demeanor, and admirable objectives. When I look at Santa through my mother’s eyes, I see a jolly fellow who is excellent and praiseworthy, so why shouldn’t I think upon him (Philippians 4:8)? Jesus is my Savior, my Number One, THE Reason for the Season…there is none greater than Him. Kept in proper perspective, Santa isn’t a “lie” that’s going to ultimately confuse and corrupt our children any more than VeggieTales will. He’s just a fun, whimsical figure that brings happiness to anyone that opens their heart to him…which I have very recently decided to do.

Growing up, my parents told my brother and I that Santa was a fun make-believe game that some people liked to play at Christmas time. They taught us about the real St. Nick, and how he loved Jesus and gave gifts to the poor. They told us that we weren't going to make-believe in Santa Claus, because Jesus is the coolest part about Christmas anyway, and we wanted to make Him the focus of what we did to celebrate. However, we were instructed not to ruin the game for any friends we had. We got roughly the same talk for the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny (although, at us kids' request, we did play pretend with the Tooth Fairy, because it was fun to get quarters under our pillow).

Gift giving was more fun, because we got to see who actually took the time to think of us and give us a present. Sometimes when my Dad read Luke 2 to us, my brother and I would act it out with the nativity figurines. We had a few Santa / elf / reindeer ornaments on the tree, but not really much else in the way of Santa decorations.

My brother and I had a blast. We didn't think Santa was evil, or that it was bad to pretend that he was real. It just seemed like it was a cheesy way to spend Christmas when the cool stuff--like Jesus' birth and giving to your family and friends--had nothing to do with him.

I think that approach does a great job of appreciating the make-believe fun of Santa Claus, without leaving the door open for the awkward/hurtful, "Umm... so yeah, Santa isn't real," or the religious, "Santa is evil and bad". This is definitely the approach I intend to employ with my own future kids.

I grew up as a Pastors daughter and never believed in Santa. Raising my daughters as Christians they never believed in Santa, but I am a collector of Santa! Does that make it wrong? I just believe that they are a beautiful piece of art. Someone has been given a gift from God and I truly appreciate their gift. I have baby Jesus on my fireplace mantle in a place of honor. My baby Jesus ornament proudly displayed in the middle of my tree. People know where my heart is as I proudly declare my love for the Lord. So I decorate with Santa. It's how you lead and live your life. Remember is Merry Christmas - not Happy Holiday!

I agree with your ideas on Santa. I grew up with the myth of Santa and was brought up in a Christian home; however my husband and I decided that we would neither encourage or discourage Santa, but would focus on Jesus for Christmas by reading our Advent story and participating with our Advent Calendar. When our daughter finally asked us if Santa was real, I sat down with a story book that told the story of the real St. Nick. I have allowed her to have her fun with Santa, but again, we do not encourage the myth at all. When it comes to Christmas gifts, the only gifts from Santa are our traditional gag gifts to each other. All other gifts are from Mommy and Daddy or whomever has given the gift My daughter is now a believer, but still enjoys the fun of leaving "Santa" cookies on Christmas Eve. As long as it is initiated by her, we allow her to have her fun with Christmas fantasy; however on Christmas day we have a big birthday celebration for Jesus and decorate the dining room for a birthday party and have a cake with candles. We then talk about the gift we will give Jesus that year for His birthday. Our focus is and will continue to be on the real meaning of Christmas!

I love Santa, and I love the various Santa stories, like "Yes, Virginia." I can hear the bells on the sleigh. That said, I never lied to my kids, and once they started asking for the truth, I gave it to them.

I recently blogged about Santa, too, and especially the dilemma that occurs when some kids believe and others do not: http://greenroomthoughts.blogspot.com/2009/12/santa-question-revisited.html

Your article of Santa do not justify as far as the truth is concerned. Because there is no such character in the Bible, what we have to practice and believe is what Bible says. Anything to please one community who believe in Santa or the other community to do not have any belief in him. You think that
your way of not favouring any one community and you present what you feel also is not a fair one.
We must not practive what is not based ono the Bible and we shoul also not try to pelase people.
REv.Vishwas P.Masih

I like to see the figurine made by a Christian artist of Santa bowing in worship to the Baby Jesus, it incorporates the fact that even the greatest (or least of us) should bow to the Lord Jesus Christ. Fun and fantasy is part of being a child and I think parents should encourage it while their children are still young, they grow up too fast! The parents need to be the example of good and be the window to Jesus in their actions and words day to day not just at Christmas. Your children will follow suite. Don't worry that they believe in Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy for a few short years, those will be over before you know it. What you should worry about it, did you lead them to seeing and needing Jesus in their lives enough to trust Him as their Savior? That is no fantasy and will lead them their entire lives and into the next generations.

Hi Bonnie. This is my first time to visit here. Interesting topics. I, like you, think Santa is harmless if the children are told that he is a fictional character. It actually bothers me when I think of parents lying to their children. What kind of relationship is that? Wouldn't it be terrible if children began to think that Jesus must be a fairy tale too? Honesty in relationships is one of the most important things - especially with our children.

In fact, I just wrote a blog about sin and being honest with our children about sin - different subject, but the idea is the same, BE HONEST about life and our children will take it more seriously and fight the good fight with greater understanding.

I think the story about St. Nicholas is interesting and I enjoy telling my children that story - but Santa has kind of stolen the show for many American's hasn't he? Kind of a shame.

It was fun visiting.
Merry Christmas!
Lynnette Kraft
Dancing Barefoot on Weathered Ground

I feel that Santa Claus is a really bad thing you go to long es-tens telling your child that someone who is made up or fairy tale is real. You go though your hold Christmas telling your child "his real" and speeding all your time on the subjected. When really your Christmas should speed more time on the true meaning Jesus on a subjected. Is that not what we are all sharing for. That's really what your children are longing for, that's what the want to learn about and to hear about. They need to know, this an life we have in front of us we have a chose to tell them about a fairy teal or something that is not real, or we could tell them about something that would change there life for entertain, that well help them throw the tough times of Christmas. When I found out at the age of 7 year that Santa Claus was not real after, my hold family had me convents me he was, I complete devastated all my child hold dreams where rewind and I fell like non of them where real so why even try, they don't come true after all like Santa Claus and he let me down big time. (From then on I would always think why dream when they never come true because of. I shouted at my mom and grandma that told he was and still where after I pulled his brad off and found it was my grandpa. I shouted at the ones I love out of pure devastation "YOU LIED TO ME" and the worst part happen there I excluded my family from my life all that and I never really compete let them back in just do you remember the great story of Rebekah and her son Jacob
Genesis 27 5:22
5Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "Look, I overhead your father say to your brother Esau, 7'Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.' 8Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: 9Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies."
11Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "But my bother Esau is a hairy man, and I'm a man with smooth skin
17What if my father touches me ? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing."
13His mother said to him "My son, let the curse fall on me."
14So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father like it.
15Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob.
16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins.
17Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and bread she had made.
18He went to his father and said, "My
father"
"Yes, my son," he answers "Who is it?"
19 Jacob said to his father, I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game so that you may give me your blessing."

because little lie like "Santa Claus is real" made me feel that the ones that I loved and where so close like my mom and grandma could lie to and not care that my heafr and child where by them I could never, never trust them.
P.S It's not right when you see an 13 year old sitting on Santa Claus's lap and telling everyone that his real or any other adult especially when there's no other kids anther, you think there crazy.

Good fill someone in on and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you on your information.

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