“No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever.”
December 21, 2015 6:42 AM   Subscribe

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" [Wiki]
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" is a phrase from an editorial called Is There a Santa Claus?. The editorial appeared in the September 21, 1897, edition of The (New York) Sun and has since become part of popular Christmas folklore in the United States. It is the most reprinted editorial in any English-language newspaper.

Full Text of Editorial: [Newspaper Clipping Image]
Dear Editor: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in The Sun it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon.
115 West Ninety-Fifth Street.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
- CBC radio interview of Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas in 1963: 'Yes, Virginia 66 Years Later' [CBC Radio Archives]
The letter, coupled with the response in which editorial writer Francis Church assured the little girl that Santa Claus indeed existed, became a sentimental favourite. Sixty-six years later, CBC Radio interviews Virginia, who is now a grandmother of seven. In his reply, Church deftly defers the harsh realities of the world and assures Virginia that Santa Claus exists "as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist." In this interview, Virginia talks about how the letter changed her life and her faith in Santa Claus. "The older I grow," she says, "the more I realize what a perfect philosophy it is for life."
- WTEN – Albany PBS – video of Virginia O'Hanlon reading the editorial to children in the 1960s. [YouTube]
- Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus (Animated, 1974) [YouTube]
- Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus (Film Adaptation, 1991, starring Richard Thomas, Edward Asner, and Charles Bronson.) [YouTube]
- Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus at Project Gutenberg (Audio files of the text by eight different readers). [Project Gutenberg]
- 1897 "Yes, Virginia" Santa Claus Letter as featured on Antiques Roadshow. Estimated worth between $20,000 and $30,000. [PBS.org]
- The grudging emergence of American journalism’s classic editorial: “Is There A Santa Claus?” [American Journalism Review]
posted by Fizz (81 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole truth and knowledge.

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated yuletide knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:04 AM on December 21, 2015 [57 favorites]


To me, belief in Santa is the purest kind of religion. Especially after it evolves from a childlike idea of a fat man in a red suit traveling faster than light and infiltrating everyones' homes, to a more general "spirit of generosity and joy and we have to embody that ourselves to make it real" sort of thing.

...such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein...

That too.
posted by Foosnark at 7:06 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


“Yes, GenjiandProust, time is a flat circle.”*

*Matthew Mcconaughey voice.
posted by Fizz at 7:12 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

And so none of your little friends believes, in these last years of the nineteenth century, that this world is being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as our own; that as we busy ourselves about our various concerns we are scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency we go to and fro over this globe about our little affairs, serene in our assurance of our empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gives a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thinks of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regard this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely draw their plans against us.
posted by kyrademon at 7:18 AM on December 21, 2015 [32 favorites]


I am Santa Claus. And so are you, VIRGINIA.
posted by tilde at 7:27 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I guess I never understood the appeal of Santa Claus. If an omniscient Viking is the one responsible for deciding what presents I deserve, how is that better than if it's my parents? They seemed to find out about most everything I did at that age anyhow.

also yes we were jewish so
posted by LogicalDash at 7:33 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist

When you think about it, this is a very clever way to dodge the question...
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:34 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

It's down in Spencer County, where 162 and 245 meet, about five miles east of Lincoln City. They have a pretty good little theme park there.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:36 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think that Santa is great. It teaches kids that adults and especially their parents lie and will continue to lie for extended periods of time. It shatters their trust in a just world and teaches them that there is no one they can truly believe. It teaches them that the entire world will decide to lie about something so simple as giving gifts to children. And if the world will lie about that, what else will it lie about?

So yes, please, teach your children about Santa Clause, shatter their hearts, let the remember to trust no one. It's one of the best Christmas lessons you can give.
posted by Hactar at 7:38 AM on December 21, 2015 [20 favorites]


Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

Ho Ho, wgah’nagl fhtagn, as my old granny used to teach us by the fire.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:39 AM on December 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


GenjiandProust, I'm printing all of these out and mailing them to my 5 yr. old niece.
posted by Fizz at 7:41 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Damn, beaten to it by GenjiandProust.

Ho Ho wgah'nagl fhtagn to all.
posted by nubs at 7:43 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, Virginia. Newspapers lie. Parents lie. Religions lie. Your friends are telling the truth. If you're going to have faith, have faith in people who tell you the truth. If you're going to believe in things, believe in things that are true.

Here are some other things famously printed in The Sun: The Great Moon Hoax, The Balloon Hoax. Virginia, your father was probably joking about The Sun's reputation; if not, he is a gullible idiot.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:43 AM on December 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


I will take any and every opportunity to plug Rare Exports, and this is another such opportunity. Rare Exports!
posted by Shepherd at 7:44 AM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


No, Virginia. Newspapers lie. Parents lie. Religions lie. Your friends are telling the truth.

"We are nihilists! We believe in nothing!"
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:51 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here are some other things famously printed in The Sun: The Great Moon Hoax, The Balloon Hoax.

Ugh that Balloon Hoax is such a terribly boring story. It shouldn't have been printed as fact or fiction, on account of being super dull.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:59 AM on December 21, 2015


Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

It's down in Spencer County, where 162 and 245 meet, about five miles east of Lincoln City. They have a pretty good little theme park there.


Jay Cutler is from there. Apparently Bears fans have been... less naughty than in the past, but still not quite nice enough?

[Did not know until I Googled that I needed to specify which Jay Cutler...]
posted by Huffy Puffy at 8:04 AM on December 21, 2015


The best part is how perfectly Lovecraft segues given all the insect stuff in the first paragraph.

You're all jaded assholes. I love it here so much.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:07 AM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


> He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist

When you think about it, this is a very clever way to dodge the question...


Obligatory:
“All right," said Susan. "I'm not stupid. You're saying humans need... fantasies to make life bearable."

REALLY? AS IF IT WAS SOME KIND OF PINK PILL? NO. HUMANS NEED FANTASY TO BE HUMAN. TO BE THE PLACE WHERE THE FALLING ANGEL MEETS THE RISING APE.

"Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—"

YES. AS PRACTICE. YOU HAVE TO START OUT LEARNING TO BELIEVE THE LITTLE LIES.

"So we can believe the big ones?"

YES. JUSTICE. MERCY. DUTY. THAT SORT OF THING.

"They're not the same at all!"

YOU THINK SO? THEN TAKE THE UNIVERSE AND GRIND IT DOWN TO THE FINEST POWDER AND SIEVE IT THROUGH THE FINEST SIEVE AND THEN SHOW ME ONE ATOM OF JUSTICE, ONE MOLECULE OF MERCY. AND YET—Death waved a hand. AND YET YOU ACT AS IF THERE IS SOME IDEAL ORDER IN THE WORLD, AS IF THERE IS SOME...SOME RIGHTNESS IN THE UNIVERSE BY WHICH IT MAY BE JUDGED.

"Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what's the point—"

MY POINT EXACTLY.”
If it is ever permissible to repost such an over-quoted passage that we all know by heart, the baked ham, the "It's a Wonderful Life," the "Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer" of internet quotes, hopefully it's during this season.
posted by officer_fred at 8:09 AM on December 21, 2015 [27 favorites]


ELF LIVES MATTER
posted by jimmythefish at 8:11 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


You're all jaded assholes.

Now that I think of it, a jaded asshole is kind of the epitome of "a gift for the person who has everything." I mean, there unlikely to already have one, right?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:14 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


For anyone who is scratching their head, officer_fred shared a quote from Terry Pratchett's Hogfather.
posted by Fizz at 8:15 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Come deliver presents with us, Virginia. FOREVER...
posted by Naberius at 8:16 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Now that I think of it, a jaded asshole is kind of the epitome of "a gift for the person who has everything." I mean, there unlikely to already have one, right?

If you're thinking along the lines of vajazzling that sounds ...uncomfortable.

Alternatively, if you're thinking more like an objet d'art, that would certainly work.

As a pen holder, for example. Or, even better, as an inkwell.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:21 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I just want to say that I really dislike this editorial and can't stand how it is dragged out every year to make us feel better or buy into its saccharine prose. Like I am perfectly able to enjoy Christmas without having to "believe in Santa" as anything other than a fun opportunity to dress up.
posted by deanc at 8:22 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


a fun opportunity to dress up

you seem to have christmas confused with purim
posted by poffin boffin at 8:29 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Come deliver presents with us, Virginia. FOREVER...

Oh, sure, first it's "We have such tinsel to show you...."

But, sooner or later, they are all "WE WILL TEAR YOUR WRAPPING PAPER APART!!!"

Story of my holiday life, really.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:31 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Caroline Ingalls tells Laura and Mary that Santa Claus exists when people are unselfish in On the Banks of Plum Creek.

For the past several years there's been a Virginia balloon in the Macy's parade.
posted by brujita at 8:33 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]



Oh, sure, first it's "We have such tinsel to show you...."

But, sooner or later, they are all "WE WILL TEAR YOUR WRAPPING PAPER APART!!!"

Every time.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


WHERE WE'RE GOING WE WON'T NEED REINDEER
posted by Shepherd at 8:47 AM on December 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


I do a bit of Santa Claus-ing. Purely amateur, but I've done it about 15 years now, plus another dozen or so years as an elf.

All I know is, if my playing a fictional character can raise the happiness level of this planet by even a teeny tiny bit, then I'm going to keep on doing it. It makes no difference if Santa is real or not --- and most people, adults or kids, know he isn't --- it just makes them happy, and that's good enough for me.
posted by easily confused at 8:47 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


"Yes, Santa Claus, there is a Virginia."

-Walt Kelly
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:52 AM on December 21, 2015


I have loved this editorial since I was a child. It's kind and lovely. Because of that, I'm skipping most of the comments here, because...

MetaFilter: They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.
posted by kimberussell at 8:54 AM on December 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. He is older than sin, and his beard can grow no whiter. He wants to die. The dwarfish natives of the Arctic caverns do not speak his language, but converse in their own, twittering tongue, conduct incomprehensible rituals, when they are not actually working in the factories. Once every year they force him, sobbing and protesting, into Endless Night.
posted by kyrademon at 8:56 AM on December 21, 2015 [16 favorites]


you seem to have christmas confused with purim


Yeah, this happens to me, too. I like to drink until I can no longer tell the difference between Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:06 AM on December 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


kyrademon, you beat me to it. Best. Holiday. Card. Ever.
posted by domo at 9:14 AM on December 21, 2015


MetaFilter: They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age except when it comes to deceiving children

People here seem to be quite pro- the editorial. Me, I've always felt like the reasoning seemed off, if not nonexistent. (Fairies, which the editorial also mentions, seem waaaaay more reasonable. Capricious, chaotic neutral forces acting on their whims to create trouble? Sign me up.)
posted by Going To Maine at 9:20 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


You may tear apart the babies. Rattle and see what makes the noise inside. But there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. Tear apart the babies. Tear apart the babies, VIRGINIA. Rattle and see what makes the noise inside.
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 9:43 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


You may tear apart the babies...
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 9:43 AM on December 21 [1 favorite +] [!]


Eponysterical?
posted by Foosnark at 9:56 AM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


In truth, it is really fun to lie to children and be in on the joke. We are deep into it.

Every child in our extended family, on the occasion of their first Christmas that they can generate memories receives a visit from someone in a Santa suit in their home. When it happened to me, I was awoken by a loud crash at 3 am and in the living room of my grandparents house there was a cloud of soot covering a man I didn't recognize as my grandfather. For my cousin, someone rented 8 reindeer that we got to feed in the back yard. My kids received a visit just before bed last year.

This year my eldest is testing the Santa myth by asking for a lavish expensive gift that went way over the line and he persisted despite our attempts to explain that the elves couldn't make something that complicated, that he was being selfish and taking the elves' time away from making gifts for other kids and "Are you sure you were *that* good this year?" Nevertheless, when we marched him up to the local Santa, he made his request for this thing like it was a perfectly reasonable extension of the Santa game.

So this year, next to a few acceptable and lovingly chosen wrapped toys, he's also receiving a certified letter on official letterhead from Noel Peppertoes, C.E.C. (Chief Elf in Charge) of Special Wish Fulfillment, Santa's Workshop, North Pole explaining that there was a parts shortage (my wife and I have been commenting on the "news reports" about this story) and the elves were only able to make one of these toys and that Santa made the difficult decision to give this one to an orphan with no toys in Scotland and Santa knows that you'll love this other special present. The letter closes with "Don't forget that the most important thing about Christmas is the spirit of giving and spending time with the people you love most. Merry Christmas." He'll either get the picture or turn into a cynical selfish bastard, but either way it's been fun pulling the wool over his eyes.

Like I said, we're deep into this thing.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:01 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do you know that on Christmas morning I once received a letter from Santa explaining that because I had let my little brother get into the fingerpaints I was not a good enough child to get the 64 count crayola crayon set that was what I really wanted for Christmas?

I was quite little - sixish - and it was pretty traumatic, plus humiliating as of course all our relatives were there.

I would not suggest this kind of letter as a parenting strategy, and indeed my father apologized to me years later and said that he'd regretted it as soon as he'd done it.

I did, however, believe in Santa Claus that morning, and might have been happier if I did not.
posted by Frowner at 10:08 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


64 count Crayola sets are for closers.
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 10:11 AM on December 21, 2015 [17 favorites]


I notice now that there is a 120-crayon set available. Perhaps I'll wrap one for myself to have under the tree this year. Opening old wounds is the best Christmas tradition!
posted by Frowner at 10:13 AM on December 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


I was quite little - sixish - and it was pretty traumatic, plus humiliating as of course all our relatives were there.

posted by Frowner


Eponysad?
posted by Fizz at 10:15 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


So let me get this straight. If I disbelieve in things that straight-up are fantasy, I have been "affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age " and that is bad because why?
posted by thelonius at 10:16 AM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


You're forgetting, the important part is to preserve the myth, even if it means making your children sad.

we are actually delivering the letter *before* Christmas so he's not sad on Christmas when he's expecting a $400 Lego set. Also, aim lower next year kid. I warned you.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:17 AM on December 21, 2015


I taught my children the myth that if you eat the hearts of your enemies, you gain all of their power. The trick is to always be the first to realize you are enemies.
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 10:21 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I found out Santa wasn't real when I recognized the voice of my dad's friend Mr. Magliochetti when he was pretending to be Santa. I guess I was about 8. It wasn't too traumatizing. I was the oldest and I kept the lie alive for my brother and sister.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:22 AM on December 21, 2015


I found out about the Tooth Fairy before Santa and I distinctly remember being upset more that my parents kept trying to drag out the lie than to admit it when I caught them red-handed. (They overslept and forgot to pull the switch while I was sleeping - I saw them creep into my room later.)

The nail in the trust coffin was when they told me we were going to the mall and actually were taking me to have major oral surgery.
posted by charred husk at 10:36 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this happens to me, too. I like to drink until I can no longer tell the difference between Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar.

Caspar is the doughy white one that isn't wearing any clothes. Can't help you with the other two.
posted by Naberius at 10:36 AM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Caspar, the doughy white one that isn't wearing any clothes. The friendliest little doughy white one that isn't wearing any clothes you know. Though grown-ups might look at him with fright, the children all love him so.
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 10:40 AM on December 21, 2015


Opening old wounds is the best Christmas tradition!

This reminded me of one of the effects of scurvy, and thereupon to the Christmas celebrations of the Heroic Age of polar exploration, especially Ernest Shackleton.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:53 AM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


A 21st Century response, for the kids of the information & digital age:

No, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus. Not in the sense of there being an actual, physical person or being who actually spends the year building toys and then delivers them all to the children of the world in one night.

Santa Claus is more than that - an amalgamation of a real-life saint, alongside other legends and folktales, brought together to create the myth of a figure that brings presents to all the children of the world on Christmas Eve. Like many modern myths, it has been co-opted by the forces of the market, and the idea and image of Santa Claus is used to sell pretty much everything you can think of this time of year. There's a reason Santa hangs out in the local mall, Virginia, and that reason has very little to do with the idea of a Santa who gives gifts away!

You can - and should - ask why grown-ups persist in telling their children about Santa Claus and pretending that he is real for as long as their children will put up with the fiction. And it's because of a lot of reasons, Virginia, but I think part of it is the fact that it's nice, for a brief period of time, to be allowed to participate in the magic of Christmastime again: to engage with someone who still can see the wonder of the world, who can take full delight in the idea of a jolly old elf who comes down the chimney to leave presents while everyone is asleep. There's a delight and a joy in that for the adults too. A chance to remember the wonder of being young, and a time when such things not only seem possible, but of a certainty. But there's another part, and that has to do with using myth to teach important ideas.

The story of Santa endures not because the figure at the center of it is real, but because what the ideals of the story represent are: that this is a season of joy and giving, of selflessness and devotion. That is the real part of Santa, Virginia, and as hard as it can be to see that Santa sometimes in our commerce-mad world where the Boxing Day sale seems as important as all the rest, that is the part you must remember. Because while capitalism will co-opt all myths for its own ends, the reason a myth endures is not because of dollar value but for all the other values it has.

In this world it is too easy to fall in love with hard data and facts, Virginia, and fail to see the important things beyond them. Know then that it is a fact that Santa doesn't exist, but the important thing is that the idea of him does.
posted by nubs at 10:53 AM on December 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


I’m impressed that so many MeFites are too smart for Santa Claus. What other smart things do you know?
posted by bongo_x at 11:08 AM on December 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Santa Claus is more than that - an amalgamation of a real-life saint, alongside other legends and folktales, brought together to create the myth of a figure that brings presents to all the children of the world on Christmas Eve.


He is also attended by six to eight black men.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:55 AM on December 21, 2015


A 21st Century response, for the kids of the information & digital age:

“Santa Claus isn’t real BUT ALL OF THE CREEPYPASTA IS.”
posted by Going To Maine at 12:39 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


While there is no one thing that made me not believe in Santa Claus, I like to lay the blame at the feet of advertising, specifically advertising for "stocking stuffers". THIS NEWSPAPER DOESN'T EVEN DELIVER TO THE NORTH POLE WHY ARE THEY ADVERTISING A CLASS OF PRODUCT THAT ONLY SANTA NEEDS‽
posted by ckape at 1:30 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The story of Saint Nicholas contains a baby left to burn in the bathwater and three boys cut up and sealed into a pickle barrell. Plus the thrilling excitement of the Council of Nicea. Where's my Rankin-Bass animation of THAT?
posted by Biblio at 2:24 PM on December 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


> "I’m impressed that so many MeFites are too smart for Santa Claus. What other smart things do you know?"

The panda is more closely related to the spectacled bear than it is to raccoons!
posted by kyrademon at 2:33 PM on December 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


So let me get this straight. If I disbelieve in things that straight-up are fantasy, I have been "affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age " and that is bad because why?

You might end up disbelieving useful lies like the efficiency of business and the natural status of the Patriarchy? Then where would it end?
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:40 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Foosnark:

To me, belief in Santa is the purest kind of religion. Especially after it evolves from a childlike idea of a fat man in a red suit traveling faster than light and infiltrating everyones' homes, to a more general "spirit of generosity and joy and we have to embody that ourselves to make it real" sort of thing.

Sys Rq:

"No, Virginia. Newspapers lie. Parents lie. Religions lie. Your friends are telling the truth. If you're going to have faith, have faith in people who tell you the truth. If you're going to believe in things, believe in things that are true."

"YOU NEED TO BELIEVE IN THINGS THAT AREN'T TRUE. HOW ELSE CAN THEY BECOME?" -- Terry Pratchett
posted by BiggerJ at 2:51 PM on December 21, 2015


Plus the thrilling excitement of the Council of Nicea.

Old St. Nick, slapping heretics.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:52 PM on December 21, 2015


Pai Natal is coming, and he is going to feast on all your toes!
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 3:33 PM on December 21, 2015


If we all say Santa is real enough on the internet, he will be. That'said how it worked for Justin Bieber, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the taun-taun sleeping bag. It may also help if Chris Kringle lights his farts on fire.
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:36 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


taun-taun sleeping bag

I'm kind of Luke warm on that one, TBH.
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 3:42 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've already forgotten who I stole that joke from and I JUST heard it. Oh, well. You know who you are. Good job.
posted by This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things at 3:44 PM on December 21, 2015


The editorial is sweeter than I remember. I think it gets boiled down to the one catchphrase and then either seen as 'Tool of the modern age lies to young child!' or 'Nice editorial preserves seasonal magic!' It's nice to be reminded it's better than that.

As I've gotten older, the appeal of reflexive cynicism has waned considerably. There's been a number of hard lessons learned; any desire to hurry children out of childhood and into the real world has been quashed. Sure, there's lessons to be learned from Santa, from the value of an enquiring mind to the complexities of lying. Those lessons will come - no need to hasten their arrival.
posted by gadge emeritus at 3:50 PM on December 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Frowner, I bought myself that 120 count box of Crayola a few years ago, and was a bit disappointed to find that it was a collection of smaller boxes of crayons, rather than one giant box like I was envisioning. It was a little unsatisfying to behold. Though I did just find this 152 count box, which might be the way to go.
posted by Tentacle of Trust at 4:06 PM on December 21, 2015


Eh, taught our kids Santa-as-Myth that's at its best benign and or positive. As a parable of it being a good cover for doing good unto others in his guise.
posted by tilde at 4:40 PM on December 21, 2015


In the highly unlikely event that any child asks me about Santa, I am going to say that Santa Claus is a giant conspiracy, carrying on the tradition after the original St. Nicholas died. Everyone is Santa--the guys at the mall, your parents, and random strangers. EVERYONE. WE ARE ALL SANTA. And now that you have asked, you must also join the conspiracy. Muahahahahah.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:33 PM on December 21, 2015


In the highly unlikely event that any child asks me about Santa, I am going to say that Santa Claus is a giant conspiracy, carrying on the tradition after the original St. Nicholas died

"of exhaustion. Because kids asked for too many toys."
posted by bongo_x at 9:19 PM on December 21, 2015


I'm not sure what it says about me that I have gotten into the more Germanic christmas where I have turned my costume and metal working skills to come out as a full blown Krampus.
People seem to enjoy it once they get it, and people hand me babies to hold for photos (I'm not sure about what this says about the parents expectations as St. Nick was standing right next to me) perhaps it is perceived as being anti commercial.
Since I have been playing this creature Christmas seems a bit more real and a lot less like a shopping obligation.
posted by boilermonster at 9:39 PM on December 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not Santa Claus..... he's Father Christmas!

I don't remember when I stopped believing, it certainly wasn't any great revelation (or devastation) but I still believe in the Tooth Fairy 'cause there is NO WAY my parents were forking out a dollar or two dollars per tooth. They were way too tight with money and I was still losing teeth aged 12/13.
posted by kitten magic at 11:32 PM on December 21, 2015


There was a whole debate in our house about whether to do Santa as a Real Thing or as a thing we talk about like fairies or werewolves that is a tradition but doesn't actually exist. My husband had strong feelings in the Real Thing direction and we went that way, but I'm still not sure about it. It seems like most kids figure it out and carry on without being upset about it, but for some kids it is a really big and terrible deal. If that happens and it's entirely our fault, I'm going to be kind of upset about it, too.

(Also. The kids decided we should do St. Nicholas Day this year and I said yes of course, we're sort of German, he'll come to our house if we leave the shoes out! So now there is a whole mess of confusion over whether Santa Claus and St. Nicholas are the same person and if so why do they come on different days and if not why are there two and yeah. It's just like they say, if you decide to tell a lie, keep it simple, or you'll be in WAY over your head.)
posted by gerstle at 3:54 AM on December 22, 2015


And one more from Pratchett's "Hogfather":
“Look at it this way, then,” she said, and took a deep mental breath. “Wherever people are obtuse and absurd ... and wherever they have, by even the most generous standards, the attention span of a small chicken in a hurricane and the investigative ability of a one-legged cockroach ... and wherever people are inanely credulous, pathetically attached to the certainties of the nursery and, in general, have as much grasp of the realities of the physical universe as an oyster has of mountaineering ... yes, Twyla: there is a Hogfather.”
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:46 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Years ago, I came into possession of a reproduction of a WWII era Soviet poster depicting Ded Moroz, the Russian version, more or less, of Father Christmas, kicking in a door and giving a hail of "lead presents" to occupying German soldiers. I kind of regret losing that poster in all my subsequent moves. It's worth remembering that there are worse things than coal if you make Santa's "Really Really Incredibly Naughty" list.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:28 AM on December 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I still believe in the Tooth Fairy 'cause there is NO WAY my parents were forking out a dollar or two dollars per tooth. They were way too tight with money and I was still losing teeth aged 12/13.

Did you ever think maybe they were saving up for when your teeth fell out?

TAKE THAT, WHIMSY

posted by Sys Rq at 9:16 AM on December 22, 2015 [1 favorite]




Boilermonster-- pictures, please! I met Krampus in 1991 or so at a holiday party at a family house in Vienna-- Krampus and Nick were performed by a couple of ... 8 year olds, perhaps? so only the 3 and under set were confused. K and N declared that I had been good and gave me chocolate. Suckers.
posted by Capybara at 1:46 PM on December 22, 2015


Boilermonster-- pictures, please! I met Krampus in 1991 or so at a holiday party at a family house in Vienna-- Krampus and Nick were performed by a couple of ... 8 year olds, perhaps?.

Here you go , I'm the one on the right of St. Nick, and here is one of us motoring in costume in my steam car (it really looks the part)
posted by boilermonster at 9:24 PM on December 22, 2015


5 Scientific Theories That Help Explain Santa To Smart Kids


The prevailing theory at my kids' school is that Santa can slow down time. My eldest came home one day and explained it to me. Then, it came up in several conversations with other kids. I don't know who started it, but this theory solves every inconsistency in the Santa story and they all swallowed it without any adult intervention. Convenient and beautiful.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:38 PM on December 24, 2015 [3 favorites]


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