For Christians, Christmas has become one of our most sacred holidays and rightfully so. It is a time when we come together with friends and family to celebrate the birth of our lord and savior Jesus Christ. However, there is one subject that tends to cause confusion among Christians every year; Santa Claus. Many Christians fill that adding Santa to the celebrations takes away from Jesus, while others see him as a harmless part of childhood fantasy. So which is correct?
As with nearly every type of confusion this one is generally based in the lack of knowledge. We see the jolly man dressed in red and fail to try to understand how he came to be. To gain a proper perspective on Santa Claus we first need to look at the celebration of Christmas itís self.
In the early Christian churches the birth of Jesus was not celebrated, only his death, burial, and resurrection. The birth of Jesus was not celebrated until the 4th century. Also, evidence shows that Jesus was actually born in the spring time. The church leaders of the 4th century decided to hold the celebration on the 25th in order to gain popularity among the many other winter celebrations going on in that day. Christmas continued for a while until in the 17th century the Puritans actually cancelled the celebration because they found no basis for it in the Bible. For nearly 100 years there was no country wide Christmas celebration allowed in the newly founded United States, only pockets of rebels. In the 1820s stores saw Christmas as a good time to advertise and began doing so. By the 1840s it had became a wide spread practice. Even though Christmas had gained popularity again, it did not become a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.
These facts are important because we need to know why we do what we do. If we celebrate something just because we think that is the way it has always been done, then we can miss the true meaning. We can see that even the Puritans started getting so wrapped up in their legalistic views that they missed the true meaning of the celebration. Itís also interesting to note that commercializing Christmas played a large part in making it a federal holiday.
Now that we have a proper perspective on Christmas we can move on to Santa. The legend on Santa Claus can be trace back to a monk named St. Nicholas that lived hundreds of years ago. The name Santa Claus actually evolved from Nickís Dutch name, Sinter Klaas, a shortened form of Sint Nikolaas (Dutch for Saint Nicholas). St. Nicholas was known for his charitable giving, especially to the children.
In the 1840s stores started using a live Santa to lure children, and their parents, into their store. This was extremely successful. By the 1890s the Salvation Army began to dress their employees up like Santa to earn the money needed for the free meals they gave to needy families.
With our celebrations today the problem is not whether or not to include Santa Claus. The problem is more centered on trying to use a holiday to teach our children about Jesus. We should be teaching our children about Jesus all year. They should know his story from beginning to end and all that he does for us in everyday life. If this has been taught all year long, then Christmas can be a time of not only celebrating the birth of Jesus, but also the Spirit of giving as represented by Santa Claus. If having your children believe in the story of Santa Claus bothers you, remember that often times children learn through stories like these. The important thing is that they start to understand how it feels to give. You can use Christmas morning to explain to them that how they feel at that moment is how others feel when they give to them.
Instead of getting stuck on just our actions we need to look deeper at our motives. If we keep Christ in all our lives, and not just Christmas, the holidays can be a great time spent enjoying many of the modern customs we have today without going against our faith. Children should learn all year that every good thing comes from God above. This knowledge will help put Santa Claus into the proper perspective for your children. History has proven that commercializing something is not always a bad thing. If combined with the proper knowledge it can help spread the good news of Godís son Jesus Christ.
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