Children highly anticipate Santa’s arrival eagerly hoping they get what they asked for. Parents on the other hand take careful steps not to let them know that the real gift giver is them, and not Santa.
Parents have been convinced to accept this role by societal conditioning and media propaganda including a constant drone of children’s Christmas programming around make believe characters like Santa and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer which grow in crescendo as Christmas day approaches.
After all, it is promoted as just an innocent fantasy intended as fun for the children. It certainly does have its merits by encouraging family get togethers, shared meals and even fun times at work. And of course, there is the coup de grace for retailers, the exchange of gifts.
But is Christmas really just an innocent fun season that is all in good fun? Could there perhaps be more at stake than we have come to understand? That, in fact, could be the real story of Christmas that we may not want to own.
The Real Story of Christmas?
The History Channel runs a show each year at this time called The Real Story of Christmas. You can watch it online here. While it does share some interesting twists, there are also some built in biases and background left out that are important to know.
For example, in the “real” story we are told that “the Church” declared the feast day of the nativity on the same day as the birthday of the sun god Mithra. While there may be some truth to the time frame, there is more behind the time chosen than is revealed by the History Channel presentation.
First of all, what the channel labels as “the Church” is actually the Roman Catholic church. This “church” is only one denomination.
While effectively disregarding all of the other denominations and churches, the mythology built into the Santa image does share some of the emphasis of the Catholic church on idolatry though.
To understand why the Catholic Church chose a sun god’s birthday as the feast day of nativity, one should see how this denomination is very different from Protestant denominations.
The Advent of Roman Catholicism
The Roman Catholic church itself developed as a response to the growth of true Christianity based on Christ’s teachings from apostles like Paul who was responsible for 70% of the non-gospel letters found in the New Testament.
Despite the fact that the Romans were doing their best to eliminate Jesus based Christians, perceived as a threat to the empire, the followers of Jesus continued to grow. Consequently, Rome adopted another tactic based on the “if ya can’t beat ’em join them” philosophy. Thye simply created their own State sanctioned religion- The Roman Catholic church.
To appease and attract existing pagan religions, the Roman Catholic Church was created as a hybrid of Christianity and paganism. This can be detected in the pagan symbolism and practices integrated throughout the denominational practices.
For example, one of the most common papal hats is markedly similar to that of the Babylonian god Dagon, a fish related, fertility god. (For more on pagan symbolism and the Catholic church on YouTube click here.)
The reality is that “the Church”, as the History Channel chose to frame it, does not represent all churches as they imply, nor in fact, accurately reflect the bible upon which true Christianity finds its basis.
The bottom line is that “the Church” which the History Channel bases their yarn about the “Real” Story of Christmas is not the “real” representative of biblically based Christianity nor the basis for our modern conception of Christmas and its central figure Santa Claus.
Without the bible as an authoritative basis, there would be no church at all. Despite its large contingent, Catholicism is not the best representative of biblical expression which you will discover more thoroughly in the video linked above. It was the bible which began to circulate more freely among the people which stimulated the loss of Roman Catholic dominance on the masses.
Rise of Protestant Denominations
About five centuries ago, the reformation arose in response to the spread of the bible among the common person. The Protestant movement began to sprout once the invention of the printing press made bibles like the Geneva bible more freely available to the common man.
Formerly, scripture was comprised of hand written scrolls in Latin only, read by scholars and closely held by the Catholic church. This helped secure the State sponsored religion of the Roman empire because few ordinary people actually read the bible and were necessarily forced to rely upon the clergy for its interpretation. This gave the Catholic church free reign to determine acceptable “Christian” ceremony and solidly secure Roman Catholic authority.
Once believers starting reading the bible themselves, however, they began to realize how far the Catholic church actually was from biblically based expression. In turn, people began to accept the bible as the authoritative word of God rather than the Papal authority.
People subsequently began to reject and protest the authority of the Catholic church’s teachings. This led to the rise and growth of Protestant denominations and churches. (Labeled protestant because they opposed papal authority substituting biblical authority instead.)
As more ordinary people became aware of what was in the bible, glaring non-biblical deficiencies being promoted as Christianity by the Roman Catholic church were revealed.
Ordinary people began to see through the lies of the Papal dominance and lose confidence in the Roman Catholic church.
Non-biblical deficiencies such as statues of saints, scapulas, even rosaries which were all forms of idolatry clearly forbidden in the bible, were made clear. More threatening to the Papal dominance however was the lack of biblical authority for the practice of “indulgences” by which one could buy their way into heaven- the sale of which contributed steadily to the Catholic coffers and wealth.
With this contrast of Christian denominations, one a mixture of pagan beliefs and one with its roots in the bible alone, one can get a sense of how “The Church” referenced in the History Channel presentation may naturally produce our modern day Christmas emphasis. Now let’s move on to examine the central star of the current Christmas season in more depth.
What About This Santa Claus Character?
It is generally believed that the Santa Claus character morphed out of St. Nicholas, the Greek bishop of Myra. (Twas the Night Before Christmas poem popularized this reference). St. Nicholas however, was known as a defender of Christianity. This is not very Santa like. After all, Santa has nothing to do with Christianity these days. Consequently, St. Nicholas in the form of the Greek bishop, may not be the best source of reference for the modern mythological character of Santa Claus.
However, St. Nicholas was also commonly linked to Odin, the ruler of Asgard, a major Germanic god. This link added some Santa, as we have come to know and love him, traits to the personality of good old St. Nick.
Odin, flew around the heavens at the time of the winter solstice (known as Yule in case you wondered where that Christmas reference comes from). Odin was depicted as a white bearded man with magical powers. Now St. Nick is beginning to round out.
Odin also rode an 8 legged horse (Sleipnir) who could leap great distances (like reindeer). He was also feared because his judgements would determine prosperity or death in the coming year. Children would leave their boots by the chimney filled with carrots and hay for Sleipnir. Odin would leave sweets and fruits in return for the children.
Frau Holda Contribution
Like Odin, Frau Holda would fly through the night and give gifts to children, as Beliefnet.com noted. In some depictions, Holda is dressed in red and uses chimneys to deliver gifts. Some Germanic traditions involve leaving food and milk for Holda on Dec. 24, known as Mother Night.
Now you can see the modern Santa Claus legend beginning to round out: passing judgment on life and prosperity, flying about with a magical leaping horse, giving gifts to children, going down chimneys, getting bribes to appease him/her like food and milk, coming at the winter solstice (around December 25th) etc. Pagan Gods have certainly contributed more to the Santa mythology than the Greek bishop, St. Nicholas.
What is Santa Claus Today?
Here’s the truth about what Santa has become to us today. Yes, he has all of the characteristics of the pagan gods above but he has now morphed beyond having those characteristics. Christmas is tangentially now, at best, a celebration of the birth of Christ (derived from Christ’s Mass right?). However Christ is very much secondary to gift giving and getting which has become the cultural and commercial priority in current times.
Christmas, as we all know, has become a consumer holiday with nearly nothing related to Christ these days. Hardly a time of spiritual celebration but rather an emphasis instead of materialism. Strictly commercial oriented entities even use an X in front of the “mas” to pretty much tell you what some intend to do with the Christ connection to this holiday.
The words of the song- Santa Claus is Coming to Town tell more:
He’s making a list
And checking it twice
Gonna find out Who’s naughty and nice
Santa Claus is coming to town
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows if you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!
Like the God of the Bible (and Odin) Santa is judging us on his moral standards. He will also punish us or reward us like a supernatural being, not our parents.
Like the God of the Bible, Santa is all-knowing and observes everything. (Also like the Elf on the Shelf that I covered in another post.) However, you aren’t encouraged to be good to meet God’s standards and grace but rather you are “good for goodness sake”. No biblical standards or commandments to live up to, simply a nebulous and arbitrary “goodness” to be good for whatever “goodness” happens to represent these days.
What’s the real truth about Santa then?
In actuality, Santa is quite clearly the secular replacement for the Christian God of the bible.
Secular means not connected with anything spiritual or religious which fits with the material, non-spiritual emphasis of Christmas in our times. According to Psychology Today, “To be secular is to maintain a naturalistic worldview in which belief in anything is always proportioned to the evidence available.”
There is a big problem however with that interpretation however. The naturalistic worldview is the basis of the evolutionist.
The problem with that paradigm is that when you actually take the evolutionary model and analyze its assumptions, you find paltry empirical evidence at best to support its claims. Kind of like Santa Claus in some ways in fact. Without covering details in order to keep this post to a reasonable length, let me just point out that it takes way more faith to accept the evolutionary model based on the evidence available than to believe in a Creator God and of course, Santa Claus is all faith based.
How Does the Santa Mythology Fit?
One of the major battles in the war for our minds involves jettisoning a personal God and replacing this relationship with the secular humanist God of the State (The Marxist Communist Model). Godless evolutionism fits as well into this model which is why Karl Marx embraced it as the biological compliment to the political ideology of Communism.
Surprisingly, Jolly Old St. Nick, while sold as innocent fun for the kids, is a weapon in this war. One may be a bit disappointed and perhaps even angry at the suggestion that one of our most cherished figures for children is a secular weapon intended to ultimately harvest willing minds, but it serves that purpose quite effectively.
Read the Communist Manifesto’s intention on what ought to happen to the family. If you shelve your emotions for a moment perhaps you’ll see how Jolly Old St. Nick aids the Manifesto cause of the break up of the family unit replaced by loyalty to the authority of the State. Let’s explore this possibility a bit further.
Santa places parents in a compromising position. By accepting your role in the Santa mythology, you are allowing yourselves to be participants in a lie. (BTW, I am not casting blame here. I was very much into promoting the Santa mythology as well when I had young children. It feels a bit embarrassing to me now however. )
It is very easy to get funneled into this agenda. When we do, we sacrifice any sense of the real reason for the season as they say. It is high time to develop a new awareness?
When your children discover the Santa lie, as they inevitably will, how do you think it makes them feel about the integrity of their parents? It certainly undermines our credibility as an authority figure.
By analogy, hasn’t the discovery of lies from our accepted government officials led to a mistrust of our government as a whole? Lies, when discovered, undermine credibility leading to mistrust.
Could this be a contributing factor as to why our children do not listen to us when they get older? It certainly isn’t a help.
With parents compromised as the authority, are our children now open to having a new authority stand in our place- like that leftist teacher pushing loyalty to the State perhaps? Does this not also help to undermine the family unit as Marx and Engels wrote about in the Communist Manifesto as I noted above?
These may seem like subtleties that would have no impact. However, the Santa story is a pretty powerful mythology that is strongly reinforced in our current secular culture. Children, in turn, place a lot of faith in their parents. Then, they discover that you have been lying to them. Not a good reinforcement of trust in their parents as an authority figure one could say.
Suggestions for Parents About Santa
I don’t want to come off as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol here. I will be sharing gifts with my now adult children this year too. However, may I suggest that we be honest with our children for starters? If you participate in the Santa deception while it may seem like innocent fun, you place yourself as a parent in a position of compromise later on when the real truth surfaces as it inevitably will.
After all, who ends up with egg on their face when your children discover the truth about Santa for themselves as you know they will? Is this really the position you want to place yourself in with your children? Wouldn’t you rather provide a model of truth and encourage them to trust your judgement and moral integrity instead?
Let Me Suggest Another Track
Why not simply tell your children the truth about the Santa mythology? When they see him, let them know he is simply a person dressed up in a red suit. That way when they see him again in another store (and you know they will), it will reinforce your truth. You can honestly tell them, “Oh, look there’s another man dressed up in a red suit.”
Why not explain to them what Christmas is really supposed to be about? There is a very powerful and deep meaning to the real Christmas story that grows in meaning over time rather than the opposite.
The Santa character is actually a bit intimidating to a small child. They oftentimes don’t actually like him and his big white beard when they first meet him. We spend our time cultivating this mythology and often have to convince them to like this character.
Gift giving doesn’t all have to be from Santa you know. After all, was not the birth of Jesus celebrated by the wise men with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh? Gift giving can be celebrated as being related to the birth of baby Jesus if you wish, not the Santa Claus deception. You don’t have to give that part of the holiday up. Just choose a more meaningful and original frame. You can probably also relate other decorative aspects to the Christmas story as well with some thought and imagination.
The point is, giving up Santa (which they will give up at some point in time anyway) does not have to mean giving up Christmas.
A Christian oriented celebration of the season can be a really enriching experience of this season, not a cultural deprivation but rather a cultural enrichment. (Really now, how enriching is it to run around depleting your wallet anyway?)
Just remember what really is at stake here– your integrity as a parent in the eyes of your children. Give some thought to this because it is ultimately your integrity with your children that is at stake.
We all know how our present media driven culture is stacked against us to step outside the Santa Claus mythology. Commercial entities have made their stake in the game clear by replacing the name of Christ with an “X” as previously noted. Will you do the same or trod upon The Road Not Taken, as Robert Frost put it……and “make all the difference”?
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope yours and your children’s is one filled with the real meaning of Christmas which extends well beyond the 25th of December and provides a gift that keeps on giving as a bonus.