Crucifying Santa Claus
Why do Christians teach their children about Santa Claus?
This is a question that has pestered me for some time and has only become more boggling since my departure from the Christian ranks. For all the talk about the secularization of Christmas, or the war against Christmas as it's being called this year, Christians themselves are largely to blame for the transformation of this religious holiday into a materialistic shopping spree that pays only peripheral homage to its religious foundation.
How many of the cherished Christmas traditions are actually a byproduct of the Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus? Very few. First, as most of you probably know, the date of Jesus' birth is unknown and the date of December 25th was simply taken to counteract pagan winter festivals.
Secondly, there is the Christmas tree. If one was to go fundamentalist for a second, you could see that as a form of idol worship. At the least though, it has zero connection with the birth of Christ, and if you think about it from an outsider's perspective, it's a bit silly (which makes me very fond of it.) Then there are smaller traditions like mistletoe, snowmen, and Charlie Brown, which are pure products of regional culture.
But the Grand Marshall of this secular parade is the red-velveted one himself, Santa Claus. Aside from being an even clearer example of idol worship, there are several reasons why Christians should want to turn their backs on this chubby challenger of Christmas cheer.
The most powerful reason to me, and the main reason why I won't teach my children about Santa Claus, is that *SPOILER ALERT* he simply isn't real. I cannot understand why parents continue to lie right to their children's faces when it comes to ole Saint Nick. I have no problem if you want to pretend he is real as long as the child knows he is simply a mythical figure like Harry Potter or Arthur the Aardvark. But to betray your child's trust in you by sincerely letting her believe Santa is real is a major parenting mistake.
Aside from the negative impacts of lying to your children, teaching your child about the Santa myth and the subsequent focus on wish lists and gift receiving creates a terrible diversion from the true meaning of the holiday. While most parents do take time out to teach their kids the real meaning of the Christmas, to a child, the real meaning is determined by their priorities. When 90% of the Christmas activities revolve around Santa and his reindeer, the 10% spent talking about Jesus is going to seem completely secondary. I don't see any Jewish families teaching their kids about Chanukah Harry, because doing so would do nothing but distract and cheapen the meaning of their holiday.
Another unintended consequence of Santa is the possible confusion that your child may feel. If Santa can see them when they are sleeping and see them when they are awake and he is making a list of who is naughty and who is nice, then what exactly is the difference between Santa and God? Getting your head around one invisible, omniscient divinity is hard enough, throwing in another that will surely be renounced before the age of ten can only lead to bafflement.
This does not only pertain to Christmas either...are you listening Easter Bunny? I know many feel these childish myths and rituals are harmless and only add to the fun of the holidays, and I agree, they are fun. But if you are religious, you should think twice about diluting your religious holiday's meaning by infusing doses of unrelated secular marketing into your holiday festivities.