Does Santa Claus innoculate children from religion? Can the cultural myth and the Gospel message co-exist in a way that makes sense?
The Christian Century publishes an RNS story that describes how various Christian traditions wrestle with Santa.
When the Rev. John McCausland crafted his Christmas Eve sermon at his Episcopal church in Weare, N.H., he always followed a basic formula.
There had to be a brother and a sister in the story. Jesus and the holy family played a prominent role. And there was always an appearance from Santa Claus.
“If we never mention Santa Claus, then you create a parallel universe,” said McCausland, who retired in June. “What I try to do in this story is to tie the two together, but not make Santa Claus primary.”
McCausland kept the Jesus-and-Santa story tradition for 14 years at Holy Cross Episcopal Church. Children would carry the figures to the creche display and sit for McCausland’s story, in which Santa often joins in the adoration of the Christ child.
Just where to place the jolly elf in the original Christmas story can be a perennial dilemma for both parents and pastors. This year, two new products draw on educating kids about the origins of Santa, or inspiring them to become Santas themselves.
NewsBiscuit has a solution: move the Christian festival so it doesn’t clash with Christmas.
The organisers of a worldwide Christian festival have announced that they are to choose an alternative date for the event.
‘We accept that in hindsight choosing 25th December was a mistake,’ said chief spokesman for Christianity, God. ‘Originally we thought that it would be a great time to have the festival – practically everyone’s off work for Christmas and the schools are closed. We thought it would give everyone plenty of time to go to church to celebrate the birth of Christ the Lord your Saviour, but in reality people are far too busy eating too much, getting pissed, trying to cop off at office parties and watching the My Family Christmas special. We really need a quieter time of year for our celebrations.’
God admitted that the problem started from no-one knowing exactly when Jesus was born. ‘We were too busy trying to work out what you do with myrrh to write the date down,’ He said. ‘We knew 25th December was already the date of Christmas and pagan Yule festival, but we were confident we could make it our own. All the pagans had was a bit of holly, mistletoe and those chocolate Yule logs, so there wasn’t much to overcome. We introduced a few carols and people were won over. What we hadn’t counted on was Christmas being so enduringly popular. Songs like Merry Xmas Everybody and I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday are so engrained in tradition we stood no chance against them. We did try to trick people with Cliff Richard songs for a few years, but most normal people weren’t fooled. Ultimately we just couldn’t compete.’
Leading supporter of Christmas, Santa Claus, a long time critic of the Christians’ efforts to weaken the mass commercialisation message of Christmas, welcomed the news. ‘It’s about time they moved their festival,’ he complained. ‘Some children don’t even realise that Christmas isn’t all about going to church and giving thanks to God. The present-receiving message is being watered down all the time. Plus if you’ve got to open presents and cook turkey on Christmas Day, how can you possibly find time to go to church? And the number of times I’ve almost been spotted by children who’ve been forced to stay up late to go to midnight mass – I’ll be glad not to have to worry about that any more.’