Last week in the Core Group meeting for our church plant, we had a great conversation about Santa Claus. Obviously Santa is one of the most beloved and well-known characters in the West. Yet, should Christians teach their children about Santa? For my wife and I, we will not be teaching our daughter to believe in Santa for a few reasons:
- Christmas is about Jesus. It’s His birthday, not Santa Claus’. In fact, the word, “Santa Claus” actually comes from the Dutch word meaning St. Nicolas. He was a 3rd century Bishop of the Christian church in Myra Turkey. He was at the Council of Nicaea. He spent his life defending the faith and sharing his wealth with people in need. He was famous for following Jesus. Everything he did, all the gifts that he gave, was in response to the greatest gift he’d been given, eternal life through Jesus Christ. We should follow his example and make Jesus center of our Christmas season.
- Santa not only distracts from the greatest gift we have, eternal life in Jesus Christ, but it also distracts from the love of parents. I know many people who give 3 gifts from “Santa” and one or two from mom and dad. So the child grows up thinking that Santa loves them more than mom and dad. He gives bigger, better, or more gifts. Children don’t see how much they are blessed with the love of their parents, but rather their affection grows for someone else…who isnt’ even real.
- Teaching about Santa can damage the faith of our Children. Think about it. Many parents tell elaborate stories to their children about Santa. They have their kids leave out cookies and milk on Christmas Eve. Then in the morning, presents have appeared under the tree from “Santa.” The cookies and milk are gone. Some even go the extent of dressing up like Santa and visiting with the kids as the presents are delivered. Parents take their kids to the mall and they can meet Santa, tell him what they want, and it ends up being there on Christmas. What happens when the child finds out Santa isn’t real? How can we expect them to believe what we teach them about Jesus, who’ve they have never seen or talked to, when the Santa the had seen in the mall was a ruse?
Now I’m not saying get rid of anything that has to do with Santa. Nor am I telling you that you should teach your kids to crush the hope and dreams of their friends by proclaiming that Santa isn’t real.
Rather I am encouraging you to tell your children the truth. Don’t lie to them about something that distracts from the true meaning of Christmas.
I still enjoy Tim Allen’s “The Santa Claus” films and frosty and Rudolf films. I’ll tell my daughter that they are fun made up stories, but I’ll teach her about the real St. Nick and how he always pointed to Jesus. I’ll teach her that Christmas is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. It’s all about Jesus. He is the greatest gift the world has ever received. So to celebrate that gift, we focus on Him and we give gifts to others, because we were given life through Jesus Christ.
If you are interested in learning more about the real St. Nicolas or about how the modern Santa Clause legends came about, visit the St. Nicolas Center’s website.
Concordia Publishing House sells a great book, Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend. It’s a great resources for teaching children about the real St. Nicholas.
There’s a new film coming out called Nicholas of Myra: The Story of St. Nicholas which looks to be a good quality film being made on the real St. Nick.
Have a Blessed Christmas!