There are numerous things that are taboo in the church world and Santa is one of them. Many Christians simply believe that Santa should not be part of Christmas. By incorporating Santa, many fear Christmas will become all about the jolly man who gives us what we want and less about the boy who came to liberate the world. To take this angle is to miss the story of Santa entirely. Allow me to explain.
There are many historical accounts, coupled with a few elaborate legends, of a real man known as Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was born in third century Turkey & lived in a wealthy family where his parents died while he was still young. Raised as a Christian, & left with a large inheritance, Nicholas found himself drawn to the words of Jesus to “sell what you own and give it to the poor” (Matthew 19:21). As a result he decided to use his entire inheritance to help the sick and needy. Because of his generosity and love, Nicholas was well respected in his village and soon became known beyond as he became the Bishop of Myra.
Saint Nicholas continued his generosity and care for the needy until he passed away on Dec. 6th in AD 343. In Europe, Saint Nicholas Feast Day is still celebrated today as people exchange gifts and participate in charitable acts of kindness to celebrate the memore of this cherised saint who left a lasting impact on many.
While many seem concerned about reclaiming the manger story, which I believe we should do, I can’t help but think we need to also reclaim the story of Saint Nicholas whose life embodied the teachings of Jesus that we “care for the least of these”. (Matthew 25:35-40) Christmas is a season of giving and if we truly want our children to understand this, I believe the true story of Saint Nicholas will only enhance that ideal and possibly even help us reclaim the manger story.
As for what I think about the guy in the red suit who squeezes down the chimney, and eats our cookies in exchange for gifts; I believe that’s a decision for you, your family and convictions to decide & despite popular opinion, I don’t think we should be afraid to let a child use their imagination as long as we keep the true story in focus.
When Saint Nicholas is used to enhance the spirit of Christmas, rather than becoming the spirit of Christmas, I think we’re on the right path. Consider embracing the true story of Santa this season!
P.S. MERRY CHRISTMAS!