Think about it. All the parents who actively encourage the Santa Claus myth amongst their children and sneak presents under the tree to foster belief
in this mysterious immortal sky sleigh pilot.
This is something that has been on my mind lately. I find the history
of Santa quite
fascinating. You can find much information online about the various pagan origins of Christmas (and other Christian holidays.) I'm not going in to
all that, but it is a point to keep in mind. It seems that Santa Claus is a strange amalgam of Christian and pagan traditions.
I will disclose that I am a rather mystically inclined agnostic myself, but I was raised in a Christian family, confirmed in a Lutheran church and
believing in Santa Claus for many childhood years. From what I understand about Christianity, the very overwhelming focus on Santa Claus - considering
the symbol's associations with both pagan figures and rampant consumerism - would very well be considered sacrilege and an encroachment on the
sanctity of their "holy day."
There is also the corporate angle to this. The ubiquitous image of our modern Santa was highly influenced by Coca Cola advertising. I'll give you the
story first. While debunking the myth that "the modern image of Santa Claus was created by
Coca Cola," they make a good case for the significant role Coke played in cementing that image in our collective minds.
Here's what Coke
has to say about it. They seem rather proud of the role
they have played. And this Alternet
article suggests that the Santa ad campaign was responsible for
boosting the slumping sales of Coke when its namesake ingredient was banned - forcing the company to target a new market. Funny to think that the
world's favorite soda began as a drug dealer. Maybe they're not so different today.
I personally don't know what to think about this, but I do have a strong suspicion that much of it is corporate. I would venture that our whole
concept of "Christmas," including the standardized Santa myth, is a calculated effort to encourage consumer culture - and give the companies a nice
boost at the end of the year!
What about the parents
protest against letting kids believe in Santa?
I don't think that believing in Santa scarred me in any way. In fact, I tried to pretend I still believed long after I figured it out, because it
seemed my parents enjoy playing the game so much (and I had a younger sister for whom I didn't want to ruin it.) Its one of those things you slowly
come to realize after a few years and its no surprise when you really get it. Besides, I think it is not a bad idea to encourage children to expand
the dimensions of what they can imagine and believe in in the world.
But we must ask, why Santa Claus?
What does our "worship" of this admittedly very rather bizarre character actually DO for us? Or for someone else?
I would love to hear some thoughts on all or some of this.