Jim Denison on Does the Bible Have Anything to Say About Santa Claus?

Unsplash/Mitya Ivanov

In 1897, eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York City’s The Sun newspaper. She asked, “Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?”

News writer Francis Pharcellus Church soon responded in the newspaper’s editorial section with one of history’s most reprinted newspaper editorials: “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

He went on to explain “the existence” of Santa Claus in terms of the love and generosity that Christmas ushers in every December. He encouraged her not to be swayed by the skepticism of the age.

If only the answer were that simple.

As with many holidays, there is history and myth intertwined in the traditions and origins of Christmas. But, for Christians, the most important, valid information comes from God’s word.

What does the Bible say about the jolly old man we see every Christmas in malls and store advertisements and for whom small children await in eager anticipation on Christmas Eve? The figure we know as Santa Claus who brings gifts piled up on a sleigh pulled by reindeer all the way from his home at the North Pole?

The short answer, of course, is nothing.

But there’s more to the story about Santa.

There really was a St. Nick, and we can learn so much from his life.

If practiced as first intended, Christmas traditions can convey spiritual truth and joy. And the purpose of this paper is to examine God’s word to find that truth and joy.

Christmas is not just a holiday. It’s a holy day. It’s not a myth. It’s a fact.

Let’s navigate the traditions and embrace the wonderful truth of the living Savior we celebrate this holy season.

Is Santa Claus real?

There’s reality behind the story and history of Santa Claus.

There actually was a man known as Nicholas who was born in AD 280 in Asia Minor, which is modern-day Turkey. He was bishop of the church in Myra, participated in the First Council of Nicaea, and helped the church find the best language to describe the Incarnation of Jesus.

St. Nicholas was beloved because he spent his life helping the poor and underprivileged. He was the first to initiate programs for mentally challenged children. His love for children led him to visit their homes at night disguised in a red-and-white hooded robe to leave gifts of money, clothing, and food in their windows or around their fireplaces.

After his death, he was made the patron saint of sailors since his church was located in a port city and had an extensive ministry to those who traveled the sea. He was later named the patron saint of Russia. Nicholas was one of history’s most venerated saints, with more than five hundred songs and hymns written in his honor. Christopher Columbus arrived in Haiti in 1492 and named the port after him. By the year 1500, more than seven hundred churches in Britain were dedicated to him.

The Dutch especially appreciated his life. They spelled his name Sint Nikolass, which, in America, became Sinterklass, or Santa Claus.

His popularity grew through a poem written by Dr. Clement Clark Moore, a theology and classics professor at Union Seminary in New York. In 1822, he penned the classic, “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” better known today as “The Night Before Christmas.” Artist Thomas Nast illustrated the book, creating the figure we now know as the jolly Santa Claus.

That’s the reality behind the story of Santa Claus. St. Nicholas’ selfless lifestyle was based on his love for God and people.

Now, let’s look at the actual Christmas story and why it should matter so much to our lives.

Christmas nativity scenes all over the Christian world will once again be unpacked and displayed to relate the story of that glorious first Christmas: a beautiful young woman protected by her equally attractive young husband, adoring shepherds with their sheep, and three majestic kings from the Orient bearing their magnificent gifts for the baby lying in a manger.

But very little that blessed night happened the way our decorations depict it. Let’s discover why.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christian Post, Jim Denison

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