Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Does Santa Have to Do with Christmas?

No, this isn't a bashing of Santa Claus. I'm actually a big fan. In fact, we saw him at the mall the other night. He remembered Adam, which definitely was impressive to Adam. When asked what he wanted for Christmas, Adam responded, "the big orange gun and the scary creatures." Santa nodded as if he understood. The back story is that Adam had just decided that afternoon that the big orange gun and scary creatures he saw on the back of a toy catalog were the things he most wanted for Christmas (of course this has changed every other day).

I loved watching Adam's eyes light up as he ran to Santa, and I plan on taking him to see Santa at least five more times. We didn't do pictures this time, since it's been a few months since Adam had a haircut and he's getting the grunge look.

Anyway, that's not what I first intended to write. I wanted to write on the question I posed at the top: "What does Santa have to do with Christmas?" But since I've already written a bit, I'll just share a link with you. I'm a big fan of Ben Witherington's blog, and the following post was written last June. Here's an excerpt:

It is sometimes said that this celebration, and its mythology is not based in the Bible or anything historical or particularly Christian. Some go even further in arguing that Christmas is just an adaptation of the pagan Saturnalia, the reversal festival of the Romans which climaxed on and just after the winter solstice on Dec. 21. This latter claim is false, since Christmas has always been celebrated after the Saturnalia was already over, and in the case of the Orthodox church, long after the Saturnalia was over. But my concern in this post is with the man himself-- jolly ole St. Nick.

Whether you call him St. Nick (short for Nickolas) or Santa Claus ( a barbarization and abbreviation of Saint Nik Claus) we are indeed talking about a real Christian person, Nicholas of Myra.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

A very good post, Robert. I've been thinking lately of how I'm going to approach the subject of Santa as our son grows. Should I stick to the biography of the real St. Nick...or should I play along with the modern myth...or some combination of both? I'm still not sure, but I lean heavily toward the "both".