Santa Claus is a big deal, especially in American culture. He is the defining figure and purpose of Christmas, much to the dismay of religious Christians as he has become the poster child for materialism. What started out as a tale told to encourage good behavior has become something that children the world over think is their right – a jolly fat man who gives them whatever they want for no good reason.
It makes you wonder and want to ask, “Who is this big man in a red suit and why do I have to put myself in debt every holiday because of him?” Well, he was originally a lot more than a reason to give kids gifts.
Where did he come from?
Believe it or not, Santa Clause came from a poem written in 1843 called “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” This poem made the tale about the man who lived at the North Pole with elves and flying reindeer who once a year flew around the world rewarding good children a done deal. Later, there were other stories and popular songs and illustrations that defined the red suit, the big belly, the sleigh, the toys and the white beard. Before that, the tale told to children to encourage them to behave in hopes of grand rewards had an older source, that of a figure in many different cultures folklore who arrived once a year with a promise of other things.
Is he the same as Kris Kringle, St. Nick and all the rest?
Santa Claus is not really the same as the folklore figures Kris Kringle, St. Nicholas, Tomte or Father Christmas. While all of these figures have been generally depicted as beings (usually male and portly) of good will, their purpose was not necessarily to give gifts so much as to remind people that spring exists beneath the snow. Santa Claus deals more with rewarding past behavior, and the folklore figures present a future vision of what a person could become. In many of the tales he comes not in a red suit, but in a long robe and carries with him candles to bring light into the winter darkness.
Is he real?
Much is made of the moment in a child’s life when they realize that Santa Claus is not real. It is considered the moment when they begin to leave the magic and safety of childhood behind. Little is made of the moment when an adult learns that Santa Claus is real. Santa Claus is the person in life who has a true sense of balance and compassion.They are generous and want to give to people who need light and joy in life, but they know that it is also something you earn and not something you are entitled to.
When adults realize that there is such a thing as spontaneous generosity and joy that you attract from being willing to live a good life ; magic and child like joy returns to their lives. Santa is the spirit of what Christmas is supposed to stand for which is love and generosity and that spirit; if you believe, lives inside of you forever.