Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus

Dear Editor

I am 8 years old.  Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.  Papa says, “If you read it in The Sun it’s so.”  Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

This appeared in the New York Sun, 1897.

The primary model for Santa Claus is thought to be St. Nicholas of Myra, a fourth century bishop in Turkey.  He gained a reputation of be4nevolence by giving gifts to children.  He gave these gifts to poor children whose parents could not afford to give gifts.  He would throw the gifts through the window of homes where the children lived.  One particular legend has been told about his wonderful acts of giving to the less fortunate.  There were three poor girls.  Their parents were so impoverished they could not pay for the girls’ weddings and help them set up their own households.  St Nicholas wanted to help but wanted to remain anonymous.  Each night he would climb to the roof and throw coins in the stockings that were hung by the chimney to dry.  On the third night the father determined to find out the identity of their benefactor.  He caught St. Nicholas as he was throwing the coins down the chimney.  He asked the father to keep his secret but the father was so overcome he could not keep from telling everyone.

Although the original  idea of Santa Claus began with a real man, different cultures have added their own ideas of this gift-giving legend.  Scandinavians brought the idea of gift-giving elves.  Germans brought the idea of decorated trees and Christ Kindlein.*

Throughout history the idea of a gift-giving jolly fat man with elves and reindeer has evolved into what we see today as the likeness of Santa Claus.

My answer to Virginia is –Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus but he does not look like the man we see depicted in commercials today.  The true spirit of Santa Claus is St. Nicholas, a bishop from Turkey who became known for his love of children and benevolent nature.

*From Traditions of Christmas by Linda J. Bean.  Faith point Press.  2008