Sunday, December 5, 2010

Santa Clause - A Lingering Belief in a Real Man

I've mentioned once before that I occasionally post answers to questions on a site called "CafeMom," and draw inspiration for blog posts from those answers. Today's post is one of those times. The CafeMom question was what to do about children who attend her daughter's school and "enlighten" her by telling her that Santa Clause (the Tooth Fairy, etc) are not real. She wondered what others think of that and whether others are as bothered by it as she is. There were the typical mix of answers, including those that said that endorsing a belief in Santa is a lie, even if only a "white" lie. My answer, roughly, follows.

Santa Clause was a real man. Saint Nicholas comes from a combination of two languages, Santa being "Saint" in Spanish, and Clause comes from either German or Yiddish, I think. He is still actively remembered in the Christian Orthodox Church for his kind deeds while he was alive. He was a bishop/leader in the Orthodox Church in his town and so heard the stories and aches of each of the families he served, as well as knew the families well.

We get the gift-giving from a story in which he helped three maiden women to avoid a life of prostitution by giving them bags of gold coins. It is said that he secretly threw the bags into their window while they slept - giving us a Santa who comes down the chimney.

In many traditionally Orthodox countries (i.e.: Greece, etc.) he is remembered by putting the children's shoes out by the door on the eve of December 6th and in the morning the children find goodies and chocolate "coins" in their shoes (therein lies our tradition of putting socks on the mantle.)

Here is a Wikki link for him

And another link to a page that is all about St. Nicholas

We let our kids know about the real man (there are several really good kids books out there about him that are not necessarily "pushing" the Orthodoxy) but we also allow for the innocence of Santa Clause on Christmas morning. As an adult, I know that there is no one who drops down my chimney at night and puts things under the tree, but I don't see the harm in letting children believe in the magic of Christmas. They'll learn soon enough, and I never felt like my parents lied to me by encouraging a belief in something I can't see.

Is that not what Christianity - or most other religious beliefs in God - are? A belief in something we cannot physically see and cannot necessarily "empirically prove" is there? I remember feeling so special when I was old enough to get to wake up, late in the night, to help be Santa for my younger siblings. Those quiet nights with my parents are special memories for me - I got to have cocoa with them, and help wrap and place gifts... I cherish those times and enjoy passing them on to my own boys.

I get highly annoyed when other kids/adults/scrooges! try to burst my kids' bubbles. Leave them alone, Codger! They'll grow up in their time. When someone tries to do that to them, I explain that some people don't believe what we do and that faith is an important thing to have in life. The Tooth Fairy, for which I have no historical basis (fairies in the old Norse and Celtic stories were NOT the kind, cutesy types that we tell stories about today!) also comes to visit our home. I'm pretty sure that Maestro, now 11, "knows," but he does it still - there is money involved, after all! But I personally don't see the harm in it.

4 comments:

  1. As long as there is money involved, your second-born will believe in the tooth fairy until he is forty!

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  2. Isn't that the truth, Beth! Bruiser can't wait to start losing his teeth for the same reason! At this rate, the tooth fairy is going to be broke by the time we're done.

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  3. What's REALLY bad is when your spouse starts putting their teeth under the matteress EVERY NIGHT expecting the tooth fairy to come :-\

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  4. We're not there yet, thankyewverrymuch.

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I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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