Yesterday someone told me they have decided not to do Santa Claus for their children because that’s “not what they want Christmas to be about.” I understand with the world’s increasing efforts to remove Christ from Christmas while making Santa Claus a photo op, we could look at the gifts brought by Father Christmas as the White Witch and say, “What is the meaning of all this gluttony, this waste, this self-indulgence?” So who is this “Saint Nicholas?” Who is Santa Claus? And why is he anticipated in one form or another all around the globe?
Santa Claus is the pure love of Christ. He is the anonymous giver who comes in the night bringing light and magic expecting nothing in return. He is a tool to teach children about God. Like our Father in Heaven, he works all year round to brighten our lives, increase our joy, and meet our needs. He is a symbol of hope and abundance. He is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-loving. We wait for him with great anticipation trying to be our best selves so as to not risk being overlooked by his blessings. Like blessings from God, Santa’s gifts are conditional upon our behavior and belief in him. Locks and Bolts make no difference to Him – just as charity and peace, he will find a way into our home every Christmas.
Biblical accounts tell of people waiting with great anticipation for the birth of Jesus Christ, their Savior and Redeemer. They didn’t know when he was coming but they looked for the signs, they watched and waited, studying the words of the prophets so when the star appeared in the sky they would be ready to greet their King. Likewise, we wait with great anticipation for Santa Claus and put up signs that he is coming: lights, wreaths, ornaments, trees, candy canes; each a symbol serving as a reminder of our Savior with the purpose of turning us to Him.
Anyone who has had the opportunity to carefully plan what Santa Claus will bring knows the joy of the actual gifts is fleeting and sometimes never comes. The magic of Santa Claus is the idea that there is someone watching over all of us with the intent of bringing gifts of wonder and delight. The faith children exercise in Santa Claus sets the stage for them to be able to have faith and hope and trust in someone who they cannot see, but who loves them and wants them to be happy. Santa Claus teaches children to look for signs and wonders, he teaches them that love is eternal but not unconditional. He teaches them giving is more magical than receiving. As children grow they will realize they too can share the pure love of Christ and they can join Santa’s team.
Santa Claus serves God and Christ. He teaches how They love us. He teaches us how to share Their love with others. He cries out, “Merry Christmas! Long live the true King.” Let us not have winter and never Christmas. I believe Santa Claus has done me good and will do me good; and I say, God bless him!
- “The Real Christmas” -Elder Howard W. Hunter, BYU Devotional December 5, 1972
- “Becoming Instruments in the Hands of God” -Elder Don R. Clarke, October 2006.