Long before the Santa Claus as we know him appeared on the scene, there was the original. St. Nicholas. I have friends who celebrate one or the other, both and neither. We fall somewhere in the middle. You might want to re-read this recent post I did about making peace with the man in red.
I have always believed in Santa Claus and I hope my children do, too. Not just the man, but the spirit. I believe it’s possible to celebrate both and stay true to our Christian traditions. As with most things, it’s when we get too enamored with one and forget the true meaning. That’s where things go amuck.
At our house, on the eve of the Feast of St. Nicholas, which is December 5, the kids put their shoes outside their bedroom doors and awake the next morning to find their Christmas pajamas and a candy cane. The pajamas are a small gift and the candy cane represents his crozier. And, we chat a bit about why we celebrate and why St. Nicholas was a man we should all emulate. The kids even celebrated at school which was pretty awesome, too. On Christmas morning, the kids experience Santa Claus. Probably a little counter-cultural, but our children only receive two gifts on Christmas at our house – one from us and one from Santa Claus. That is, after all, 10 new things in the house! Ultimately, though, we want to foster a spirit of thankfulness among our children. It isn’t – and never was – about the tangible gifts we get. That’s another post for this Advent. I’m getting ahead of myself 🙂
This comparison was on the St. Nicholas website and I thought it was worth sharing.
Santa Claus belongs to childhood;
St. Nicholas models for all of life.
Santa Claus, as we know him, developed to boost Christmas sales—the commercial Christmas message;
St. Nicholas told the story of Christ and peace, goodwill toward all—the hope-filled Christmas message.
Santa Claus encourages consumption;
St. Nicholas encourages compassion.
Santa Claus appears each year to be seen and heard for a short time;
St. Nicholas is part of the communion of saints, surrounding us always with prayer and example.
Santa Claus flies through the air—from the North Pole;
St. Nicholas walked the earth—caring for those in need.
Santa Claus, for some, replaces the Babe of Bethlehem;
St. Nicholas, for all, points to the Babe of Bethlehem.
Santa Claus isn’t bad;
St. Nicholas is just better.
—J. Rosenthal & C. Myers