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Michael Rielly

Exploring the significance of Santa Claus

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Michael Rielly

Exploring the significance of Santa Claus

The Daily News
April 28, 2016

EXCERPT:

Over the past 50 years or so, commercial interests have, to a considerable extent, hijacked Santa Claus in the interest of selling “things.” Prior to the ‘40s and ‘50s, Santa Claus, aka “St. Nicholas,” remained more spiritually significant.

One of the more memorable and instructive images of legendary Albion native Charles W. Howard shows him — as Santa — kneeling beside a cross. Though Mr. Howard tried his hand at toy-making, the image suggests that Charles Howard may have viewed Santa Claus much differently than he is often thought of now. Before he was used to promote Coca Cola and Mercedes Benz, Santa Claus was more often viewed as representative of a much more altruistic message and a force for good.

It was clear during last year’s Santa Convention in Albion that it was not primarily an interest in selling tin soldiers, Lincoln Logs, and video games that captured the imagination of Mr. Howard and the hundreds of Santas who revere him.

Rather, it is that Santa Claus embodies, in terms understandable to a 3-year-old, principles with religious significance. Santa Claus and Christmas are inseparable.

In one of the best known Christmas songs, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” the assertion is that, “He sees you when you’re sleeping; He knows when you’re awake; He knows if you’ve been bad, or good, so be good for goodness’ sake!” The “He” seems to refer to Santa Claus.

But isn’t the concept of Santa Claus as ever-present, all-knowing and just curiously familiar to those for whom God represents the same qualities? St. Nicholas was a Christian Saint. For those being introduced to Christianity as children, hasn’t it always been useful to introduce the idea that virtuous conduct is rewarded? As children, one of the first Christmas messages we received is that an omniscient One knows what we are doing whether any mortal sees us or not.

One of the things that are likely developed through our early experiences with Christmas — and Santa — is a conscience. As children, we learn that it may be useful to behave in order to avoid displeasing Santa. Hopefully, the concept evolves as we mature. Note that the lyrics from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” cited above, end with “...for goodness’ sake,” rather than, “...so you get some toys.”

The song title is, of course, misleading in one important way. It states, “Santa Claus is coming to town,” when in truth it implies he is always “in town” making note of how deserving we are.

On the 50th anniversary of his passing, it might be well to reflect that Charles Howard — and Santa Claus — were traditionally less about selling “things” and more about selling virtue

SOURCE: http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/bdn06/exploring-the-significance-of-santa-claus-20160428

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Cedar Park Santa Bob

I may get beat up for this because I'm new to "All Things Claus" ... but I am 70 and I have seen and felt a lot.  And I think you are right, Santa Claus is sometimes hi-jacked to support and promote various products and activities.  Because of some of this usage, "Santa Claus" has become a bit controversial. Some good people would like to see the end of Claus, saying the myth has nothing to do with the birth of the Christ child. Good luck with that. I've known folks who have tried to raise children without the myth of Santa ... they couldn't do it. Santa, for good or ill, is pervasive.

But what is also pervasive, especially on this board and other Santa associations and banners under which "Santas" gather ... is the primary essence of Santa is love.  Especially love and care for children, but essentially love for all. And love that pure is non-denominational. God's love is infinite, without limits.  That is a fine thing to emulate. And many, many Santas approach their activities mindful of that goal. I know this because they tell me so, and I see it in them when I meet them.

I'm old enough not to concern myself with things I cannot control, including ideas, campaigns and individuals (seems I read something about that earlier regarding "new Santas" at the north east gathering).  So, I'm not going to try. Instead, since I can control my ideas and actions, that is where I will put my emphasis. And hope to share with others what others have shared with me.

Edited by Cedar Park Santa Bob
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FrSanta

 For some Santa is a business, it is a way to make money and way to sell products. The commercializing of Christmas is not something new, Charlie Brown complains about it in the 1965 cartoon. We can now add the secularizing of Christmas as well, where Christ doesn't belong either. Sometimes Santa is used as a secular counter to Jesus, and sometimes Santa is attacked for distracting from Jesus.  We live in a very polarized time where it seems that everything is controversial and anything you hold dear is offensive to someone.  Sometime we might wonder will Christmas survive?  

I believe that it will, I believe that Love, which is at the heart of Jesus' birth,  St. Nicholas and Santa will always win.  Love when it is express both in word and actions can not be silenced because it speaks to our hearts.   When I put on the red suit, my goal is to show and express love to young and old, to bring joy and lift hearts.  Every Santa can be an ambassador of love, the suit gives us permission to be joyful, loving, caring and compassionate.  People want it and respond to it.   I believe that no matter how commercial or secular the world becomes it will still want and need Love.  For anyone of faith, this is God, who is the source of all love, we proclaim our faith when we love others.  All the material goods in the world will never satisfy in the way that being loved does. The more we love and are loved the happier we will be. Santa is a messenger of love and doesn't compete with Jesus nor substitute for him either, he is like John the Baptist preparing the way, he calls to mind, what is good and right and helps to celebrate Christmas. 

 

 

Edited by FrSanta
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Santa Bill Reiller

Excellent post FrSanta.   I think you included it all in a nutshell.

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Santa Ross

Great post FrSanta! 

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