Santa - Ho, Ho, Ho or No, No, No?

As Christmas gets ever closer the one question I continually get asked as the family worker is: "Should Santa play a part in a Christian family's Christmas?"

James Pope | 21:05, 3rd December 2013

It's a great question and one I'm working through myself now as my eldest child turns four this December. All I can tell people is where we are at as a family right now. I desperately don't want to lie to my children and have them ever question their trust in me, especially as I share the truth of the incarnation with them at Christmas. Or as Mark Driscoll puts it, 'our fear is that if we teach them fanciful, make-believe stories as truth, it could erode confidence in our truthfulness where it really matters.' 

This year we are going to teach our boys the history of Santa in the real life person of St.Nicholas.

I also believe the reason that younger families are so concerned with this matter at the moment is the bombardment of the Santa myth in secular society today. Everywhere you look the commercialised images of Christmas have taken over: in the media, in shops and now in schools. You are lucky to find a nativity in a school these days, and if you do the baby Jesus will probably be paid a visit from Rudolph or some other whimsical intruder! Therefore if everywhere else is spending 100% of the time teaching my children that story of Christmas, I want to spend every moment of my time teaching them the wonderful truth of God among us.

The question we need to ask then is what do we tell our children about the man in the red suit if it is being pushed upon them from every direction.  Do I tell my 4 yr old that Santa is an anagram of Satan and is out to steal God's glory? No! I don’t think that would be very helpful!  This year we are going to teach our boys the history of Santa in the real life person of St.Nicholas.  

St Nicholas - Clement Clarke MooreSt. Nicholas was a man who loved Jesus and was used by God to show generosity and love to many people (you can read a little about him in a previous blog). Many other places in Europe celebrate St.Nicholas day on the 6th December and make it a separate day from Christmas, perhaps this is a tradition that will work for us again. It doesn't need to be another big celebration, in Germany children awake to small gifts of chocolate coins and oranges in a stocking or shoe and spend the rest of the day remembering the stories of St. Nicholas. There are some good resources out there to help with the teaching, like Phil Vischer's "Why do we call it Christmas." 

This seems to provide a way that we can teach our children love and generosity and a historical Santa at the start of the month and leave the focus of Christmas on celebrating the birth of Jesus.  I pray God's leading for us as we work these things though together.

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