Who is Santa Claus (en.wikipedia.org)? Are you familiar with the word legend? Examine the origin of Santa Claus (britannica.com). Consider how the historical St. Nicholas is now remembered by children. What changed over time? How was the legend formed?
A legend is part truth and part fiction. Who today do we think is Santa Claus? We have a commercialized version of Santa Claus that was swiped from a poem for children, A Visit from St. Nicholas by CLEMENT CLARKE MOORE. Doesn’t everyone know how it begins?
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
We delight in fantasies. The image of a kindly, wise, and generous old elf fills a small part of our hearts with a sense of security and a desire for how things should be. Therefore, advertisers and merchants use the legend of Santa Claus to grab our attention and encourage us to buy and buy and buy. If we buy enough stuff, will we become Santa Claus or just please him?
Scott Walker, once the governor of Wisconsin, writes of another Santa, What if Santa were a socialist? (washingtontimes.com).
Imagine if Santa were a socialist.
Everyone would get the same thing for Christmas. There would not be any creative or handmade gifts. Each would be a bland, standard-issue, non-offensive, gender-neutral gift designed by a bureaucrat in the North Pole.
In fact, Santa would no longer be male and most likely would be gender-neutral. All references to him or his in the stories about Santa would be removed so as not to offend anyone. No more white hair and beard as Santa would not want to be confused with a boomer. (continued here)
It is absurd, of course, but some politicians want to be Santa, and some people want government to be their Santa. Do they understand the difference between the legend and the truth? What is the truth that resides in the heart of a human being?
What we see depends upon our vantage point. To see more we must study. That is, we must change our vantage point. We must move in close to see all the details. We must stand back to understand the context. To appreciate what we have missed, we must ask others what they have seen. To understand what we have missed, we must set aside our pride. We must consider the possibility that another might perceive what we cannot.
What does it mean to know the truth? We must see, hear, taste, smell, and touch everything. Yet because we are finite, we cannot do that. Even our senses are too limited to perceive everything. This is why the First Amendment of our Constitution is so precious. Even if we cannot see, hear, taste, smell, and touch everything, we can at least share our perceptions with each other. Even if we cannot see, hear, taste, smell, and touch everything, we can commune with our Maker and strive to learn from Him.
So, who is Santa Claus? The story is retold by someone every Christmas. Here is a version from this Christmas, The Origin of Santa Claus (crosswalk.com).
The name Santa Claus is the English form of the Dutch name for St. Nicholas (Sinterklaas). Though the modern Santa Claus is associated with a world of fantasy, the historical St. Nicholas was a godly man known for his charity and generosity.
According to the best estimates, Nicholas, was born around AD 280 in Patara, in Asia Minor. He later became bishop of Myra in modern-day Turkey. Nicholas, it seems, died about 343 on or near December 6.
Nicholas was born in the 3rd century to wealthy Christian parents in Patara (a harbor city in modern day Turkey). It is probable that Nicholas and his parents could trace their spiritual heritage to the Apostle Paul, who stopped in Patara on his third missionary journey 200 years earlier. (from here)
Santa Claus is fantasy, but St. Nicholas was a real man. He was born. He lived a long life. He loved joyfully. He suffered for Christ’s sake, and after his death the people who loved him memorialized him. If we want to know who Santa Claus was, then we need to study St. Nicholas from different vantage points. Why did this man love God so much and live his life with so much generosity? Is that not worth knowing?
This Christmas let’s step outside our childhood fantasies. Let’s study St. Nicholas. Let’s pick up our Bibles. Let’s read the story of Christmas, Matthew 1:18-Matthew 2:12;Luke 2:1-20;John 1:1-5.
- Santa Claus (history.com)
- From St. Nicholas to Santa Claus: the surprising origins of Kris Kringle (nationalgeographic.com)
- Who is St. Nicholas? (stnicholascenter.org)
- The Ancient Origins of Santa Claus (ancient-origins.net)
- Saint Nicholas Biography (www.biography.com)
- St. Nicholas (catholic.org)