The Case for Claus

Christmas is over. We’ve bought, wrapped, eaten, sung, eaten, unwrapped, eaten. We’ve taken part in our respective holiday traditions, which, for a lot of us, includes a visit from Santa Claus.

That’s me. Doing my best bowl-full-of-jelly Santa impression.

I know there are people who choose not to partake in the Santa Claus tradition. And that’s fine. But the people who grind my gears are those who ruin it for the Santa believers. Many who choose to not include in Santa in their Christmas traditions claim he isn’t biblical. Yes, Santa in our modern-day society has come to represent commercialism, but his origin is about generosity and Jesus. And while Santa isn’t actually mentioned explicitly in the Bible, all the things he stood for are there.

St. Nicholas, the fourth century bishop of Myra (modern-day Turkey) on whom the Santa Claus we know today is based, showed his devotion to God through kindness and generosity to those in need. Yep, you read that right: fourth century. That’s like, a long-ass time ago.

St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, modeled true giving and faithfulness and is known as a lover of the poor and patron saint of children. He was devoted to Jesus and he did a lot of Jesus-y things. When Myra experienced a famine in AD 311, 312 and 333, Bishop Nicholas convinced sailors carrying wheat cargo to give a measure of grain from each ship so the people could eat. The sailors gave the wheat, and then continued to Alexandria where the full amount of wheat was accounted for.

In AD 325 he confronted and slapped a man teaching that the Son Jesus was not equal to Father God. Nicholas was stripped of his office and placed in prison, where he encountered Jesus bringing him the book of the Gospels and Mary bringing him his stole. This miracle had him reinstated. When three soldiers on leave in a port that served Myra were arrested and sentenced to death during a mob situation, Bishop Nicholas grabbed the sword from the executioner’s hands and had the innocent soldiers cleared of their charges. He successfully implored Constantine to have the high taxes of Myra greatly reduced. After Constantine declared tolerance for Christianity, Nicholas destroyed idol shrines, drove away demons and built churches in Myra.

That back-in-the-day “Santa” was a pretty cool dude. And while our Santa tradition has evolved to be more kid-friendly, he still represents generosity and good will.

In the end, each parent has to decide whether they want to have the Santa tradition. But maybe your Santa tradition can be more about teaching devotion to Jesus, generosity and love instead of greed and commercialism.


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