christmas, santa claus

Reflections on Santa Claus

Santa and Brigid 2010“All the world is happy when Santa Claus comes.” – Maud Lindsay, Santa Claus, a Wonder Story for Little Children

“Alas! How dreary would be the world if there was no Santa Claus!… There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.” – Francis P. Church, New York Sun, Sep. 21, 1897

Facts about Santa Claus

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, or simply “Santa”, is the figure who brings gifts to good children on Christmas Eve, December 24. Since a 1930s Coca-Cola ad campaign, Santa Claus has been depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots.

Santa Claus lives at the North Pole. He is married and lives with Mrs. Claus. He makes a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them according to their behavior, and delivering presents to all of the good boys and girls in the world, and sometimes coal to the naughty children. He does this in one night with the help of his elves who make the toys and his flying reindeer who pull his sleigh.

The story of Santa Claus’ origin and early life can be seen in the 1970 animated television special “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” Inc. That story sets Santa against the bitter Burgermeister Meisterburger who had banned all toys until Santa, anxious to deliver toys made by his adopted family, the Kringles, entered the town. This “outlaw” beginning explains why Santa travels at night among other questions.

Despite his generous behavior and good will, Santa has been the victim of fierce condemnation. This originated among some Protestant groups of the 16th century and was prevalent among the Puritans of the 17th century who banned the entire Christmas holiday as either pagan or Roman Catholic. Rev. Paul Nedergaard, a clergyman in Copenhagen, Denmark, attracted controversy in 1958 when he declared Santa to be a “pagan goblin” after Santa’s image was used on fund-raising materials for a Danish welfare organization. One prominent religious group that refuses to celebrate Santa Claus, or Christmas itself, for similar reasons is the Jehovah’s Witnesses. A number of denominations of Christians have varying concerns about Santa Claus, which range from acceptance to denouncement.

“Santa Claus is a god. He’s no less a god than Ahura Mazda, or Odin, or Zeus. Think of the white beard, the chariot pulled through the air by a breed of animal which doesn’t ordinarily fly, the prayers (requests for gifts) which are annually mailed to him and which so baffle the Post Office, the specially-garbed priests in all the department stories. And don’t gods reflect their creators’ society? The Greeks had a huntress goddess, and gods of agriculture and war and love. What else would we have but a god of giving, of merchandising, and of consumption?” – Donald E Westlake, Nackles,” A Yuletide Universe

“Our jolly old Saint Nicholas reflects our culture to a T, for he is fanciful, exuberant, bountiful, over-weight, and highly commercial. He also mirrors some of our highest ideals: childhood purity and innocence, selfless giving, unfaltering love, justice, and mercy. (What child has ever received a coal for Christmas?) The problem is that, in the process, he has become burdened with some of society’s greatest challenges: materialism, corporate greed, and domination by the media. Here, Santa carries more in his baggage than toys alone!” – Carol Jean-Swanson, Mothering

“Santa Claus is anyone who loves another

and seeks to make them happy; who gives

himself by thought or word or deed in every gift

that he bestows; who shares his joys with those

who are sad; whose hand is never closed against

the needy; whose arm is ever outstretched to aid

the week; whose sympathy is quick and genuine

in time of trouble; who recognizes a comrade

and brother in every man he meets upon life’s

common road; who lives his life throughout

the entire year in the Christmas spirit.”

Edwin Osgood Grover, Vicki Howard’s The Book of Santa Claus

“Merry Christmas!” – Santa Claus

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