Sunday, December 11, 2005

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.

Fly higher,
Icarus Goodman

10 Comments:

  • man, icarus, for the second post in a row i completely agree with you! i actually had this conversation a couple years or so ago with my girlfriend, who of course thought i was insane. i think you may get some comments trying to tie the secular activities you mentioned to actual christian beliefs, but it will mostly be alot of b.s. the truth is that satan has fooled so many people in order to take away from jesus christ. i am not putting the blame on satan however, since he's just doing his job. i place the blame on myself and on other fellow christian believers for letting lies take over the true meaning of the holiday.

    By Blogger ezekiel, at 10:19 PM  

  • OMG HE ISN'T REAL????

    /cocking a shotgun

    By Anonymous Matthew, at 1:08 AM  

  • Hello from one Tampa person to another!! :)

    By Anonymous Vicki, at 1:50 PM  

  • Ok I browse through a lot of blogs written by perceived FORMER CHRISTIANS!
    I’ve posed this question a few times and have yet to get a straight answer so I’ll try one more time.
    The reason for your post, “Why do Christians teach their children about Santa Claus?”
    YOU ARE A FORMER CHRISTIAN! Why do you give a damm?

    “This is a question that has pestered me for some time and has only become more boggling since my departure from the Christian ranks”

    YOU ARE A FORMER CHRISTIAN, you have indicated that you have removed yourself from the mythology. You have managed to achieve a level of understanding that current Christian dunderheads have not reached. So why post something questioning how people choose to celebrate something.

    “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.”

    I’M SHOCKED! I have never heard that before. AGAIN why do you care?

    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.

    I REPEAT why do you care, YOU apparently are smarter than the rest of society. You are smart enough to save your $40 or so and put it to more sensible use besides buying some stupid tree, CONGRATS!

    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.

    I FEEL LIKE A BROKEN RECORD, YOU ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN, therefore it would seem to me that YOU did indeed turn your back on how you say it “chubby challenger”. So why is this particular question relevant, poignant meaningful in your life?

    Does posting these pressing questions and seemingly mocking those Christian morons make you feel superior, smarter more balanced? Just askin’

    By Blogger Snoop, at 5:59 PM  

  • next you're gonna say that billy madison's penguin isn't real either!

    By Blogger jollybeggar, at 1:48 PM  

  • I could ask the same question of you, "why do you care that I wrote a post about it?" I don't want to assume, by I guess it is because it annoys you or baffles you for some reason, but correct me if I'm wrong. Well, my reason is similar. I see many Christians complaining about the secularization of Christmas, while at the same time being active participants in actions that contribute to it, such as teaching their kids about Santa and so forth. To me it is a bit hypocritical. As this is my blog, I write about my opinions on such cultural matters. As a former Christian, religion and its role in society is topic I find very interesting and I write about it often. Am I not supposed to write about Religion at all since I dont believe? Should a Republican not comment on the policies of Democrats?

    I find your comment a bit perplexing. I'm not sure if you are a Christian yourself who is simply offended, or an atheist like myself who doesn't like to even discuss religion aat all. Now that I have explained my reasons for posting, perhaps you could explain the reason behind your comment.

    By Blogger Icarus Goodman, at 2:25 PM  

  • My kids did not do Santa.

    There were two reasons.

    1) I did not want the kids to suddenly discover I had lied to them, and not trust me on other, more important things.

    2) If I spent all night building toys, I didn't want some part time fat man to get the credit.

    I did teach my kiddos that others followed Santa, and to let those children find out on their own.

    Five kids, all grown now, none seem hurt that dad didn't believe in Santa. And we always had a wonderful Christmas.

    By Anonymous allan, at 3:03 PM  

  • I am a Christian and I'm not in the least offended by your post. We limited our children's involvement with Santa and DID emphasize the Baby Jesus. We, too, tried to tell our children not to disallusion any of their friends who did believe in Santa, but I'm not so sure they heeded that advice.

    You might be interested in reading the post and comments on To Santa or Not? on our Plush Memories blog about the same subject.

    By Blogger Dirty Butter, at 7:56 AM  

  • The entire "holiday" is man-made. I see it merely as a part of our American culture. First, it was the pagans and their celebration of the winter solstice. Then "religious" people decided to add in Jesus' birth. So the pagan side has lost its meaning and the Jesus side never had meaning because God never instructed His followers to celebrate that day -- He did set aside the first day of every week to celebrate his death, burial, and resurrection. Note: this doesn't happen once a year in April. I do not like the capitalistic nature of the holiday season. I would love to just spend time with my family and friends and enjoy the winter weather and the traditional icons (santa, mistletoe, eggnog, christmas tree) that are just that -- feel good winter holidy fuzzies.

    By Blogger The Light Fantastic, at 7:34 PM  

  • A lot of festivals are a part of our pagan heritage, they were adopted by the church or sould i say hijacked because they knew they could not irradicate them, easter, (the bunnies and eggs etc), christmas (mistletoe, gifts and the beared santa or green man), may day, and many more are actually pagan rituals covered with christian sprinkles. We should celebrate them as they are a part of us, we were and are still pagans, the name of our god may have changed and the ideals of the celebrations but a lot of the original context remains.

    By Anonymous Garden Seats, at 4:51 AM  

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