Written by: Felicia Sanders
Should Adventists teach their children to believe in Santa? It’s a tricky question to answer. No, I don’t think that as Christians we should teach our children to believe in a magic man who comes down the chimney with gifts; it rings true of spiritualism. But more importantly, it takes away from the true meaning of Christmas.
Though we don’t know the date of Christ’s birth, as Christians, Christmas reminds us of the sacrifice He made to come to this world in a humble servant’s body, being born as a human. Christmas also has an overarching theme of love, family and giving. The traditional American understanding of Santa takes away from that spirit of selflessness and giving. If we teach our children to believe in Santa, we take away the chance to instead teach them the true blessing of Christmas.
Santa also seems to be a means of getting children to behave around the holidays, at least here in America, where bad children are said to receive coal instead of presents. I think there are better ways to teach our children to behave, one of which would include showing them how much of a blessing it is to give rather than to receive.
I also realize Santa comes in many forms worldwide. Because my mother is German, I always learned about Saint Nicholas, who leaves little gifts in children’s boots by the front door –– but that’s based on a true story. Although the legend of Santa varies a bit from country to country, his role of visiting sleeping children and leaving presents tends to be a common thread throughout.
Parents might consider teaching children of the myth of Santa Claus so that they can understand why their peers are so excited about Santa. We can also teach children why many Christians choose not to believe in Santa: to direct a focus on Jesus, the true gift to us all.
Parents could also consider giving their children a brief history lesson on the origins of Santa. Just like Halloween, Santa originates from another tradition as well. In about 280 A.D., a man called Saint Nicholas was said to be very loving and pious. He would go around leaving goodies like nuts and oranges in poor and needy children’s stockings, which were left out to dry on hooks (thus our Christmas stocking tradition). He gave to children in orphanages, as well as all those in need whom he could help.
This, I think, is a much better tradition to teach our children about because the focus is less on what was received and more about what was given. Christmas should be a time of giving love and receiving the blessing in that.