Origins of Santa Claus
A lot of people not familiar with the full story of Santa Claus often talks about things they don’t know a lot about. Some people use believing in Santa Claus as being inferior in intellect. Or that Santa Claus is a rip-off of some Germanic, Celtic, Norse, or Semitic god. Both of those claims were untrue. Christmas as it is celebrated today is very much different and the same. It is very different as decorations are a modern invention, and so is Santa Claus. Santa Claus as we know him was invented in the 1800’s as a way to have a non-religious based story attached to a day known to the cultures of the northern hemisphere as the true beginning of the cold. Christmas while called that by Christians for Christian reasons. We do have to live with non-Christians.
The common theme of the winter solstice as this time of year is the time of year you don’t really want to be without shelter historically for our species. Across all cultures there is a holiday based around being together, family. American culture is a Melting Pot culture was the first of its kind and ambitious. All cultures coming together to create a new culture, an American culture. What some scrooges would call a culture based on cultural appropriation. But it’s not that it’s a unification for spirit. Before what we consider civilization, life and survival was much, much harder. Everyone ate because everyone pitched in. Christmas on a Christian religious perspective is more about togetherness and celebration of a year of working together past.
We don’t rely on our neighbor to grow something we can’t to eat anymore. We rely on corporations to do that. Civilization before what we call Civilization and all our noise. Everyone had to work together to survive. Every town and community a family in itself. It’s I think harder for humans to be generous now than before. I think in the 1800’s you had a similar problem happening to society like what is happening today. A problem with unity.
Santa Claus is Real
This may shock you but the story of Santa Claus isn’t actually about an Old fat man that labors to give everyone gifts to all the cultures that have a gift giving holiday about community and togetherness. That is what the literal words of the story is. But we are a very imaginative species. For most of our species history our history was told through stories. Even fictional stories are deeper than just the words. Santa Claus is the embodiment of generosity. A big reason for that is Catholic/Orthodox influence on American society. Saint Nicolas in Christianity was a real person. Part of his saintly acts was charity to the poor. He brought gifts to each town he visited. He also did other things as a Early Church Bishop. His story which has been around since the Middle Ages actually inspired the spirit of Santa Claus it’s why he’s called good ol saint nick.
Santa Claus was also inspired by Germanic folklore and other forms of folklore from both western and eastern Europe. Santa Claus and his story was made to be non religious as a tradition something the entire American culture could get behind. Santa Claus as we know him today was an American culture invention. While to Christians, Christmas is the celebration of the Birth of Christ, it is also a celebration of community and family.
Unlike now humans used to rely on their neighbor to eat during the winters. In some European cultures around December 25th is the start of the really cold season. Sometimes entire villages used to huddle in a main gathering hall during blizzards and storms. This almost uniquely European winter tradition translated into Christmas. A holiday that is traditionally a holiday of family, togetherness, and charity. It’s also the beginning of the roughest part of the year before information age modern society. (Modern Society has existed longer than a hundred years. It started during the industrial revolution which started in the US in the 1800’s. The term modern also changed a few times after the 1800’s.) You might be saying well despite all that, you are literally saying Santa Claus is a story created for inclusion purposes of non Christians into Christmas through making a uniquely American story based on folklore of Europe and other places. So therefore not real. But every time you give a gift, especially when you don’t want that person to know it was you. Well you are Santa Claus embodying all that character represents when you do that!
Christians and Santa Claus
What makes the character in the story false is also what makes the character true. While as a Christian I could show quite a few verses in both the Jewish side of the Bible and Christian side of the bible regarding charity and how charity and good will is a main theme of the gospels in the New Testament. I would argue that Christmas while being a celebration of the Birth of Jesus is also a celebration of the life of Jesus. Who taught to his apostles the importance of charity it was a huge portion of the ministry of Jesus, who taught the poor and also taught about the importance of charity and togetherness. Christmas also celebrates that aspect of Jesus. The love, forgiveness, togetherness, and a reminder of how we should be towards each other all year long.
These are big themes in both the story of Jesus and Christmas. Santa Claus was never a story of a person, but a symbol of these positive emotions. Whenever you give someone a gift on Christmas you are embodying all these things. Christmas isn’t about receiving gifts it’s about the giving. Even if the only thing you can afford is a big dinner for everyone close to you, you have given a feast, an enjoyable experience, a really good experience to look forward to next year. Every time you give on Christmas in the name of Charity you are being Santa Claus. You are living the spirit of Christmas, which is also the spirit of the ministry of Jesus. Santa is just a way to be part of the celebration without believing in Jesus, as Christmas has always been a holiday of togetherness, forgiveness, and community. So, Cosplay as Santa, say your HO HO HO’s make someone’s Christmas special and memorable. Even if you don’t take part in the religious part of the holiday, the non-religious part I think is just as valuable to keep alive in Christmas as the religious parts. Especially in such divided times.
Tell the scrooges trying to cast humbug on societies day of good will, to buzz off. While I very much support the religious aspects of this holiday, there are non-religious aspects created to include the non-religious. Put up your lights, spread your cheer everyone is welcome to join the celebration. Christians are celebrating the birth of Jesus, we are also celebrating togetherness, community, family, and charity. All things Jesus said was important.
Just something to think about. I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Christmas. I hope you all come together and when someone brings up politics say today is not the day. Today is the day we enjoy each other. Above all I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.