The Christmas Menace! – Santa Clause?

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Last week, my wife and I attended the annual Christmas Pot Luck for our church. Yes, a potluck. Us Christians love our potlucks. After all we have no other outlets, clubbing is certainly out of the question so the potluck will have to do. While at the potluck the Christmas Menus Santa Clause made an appearance. The church had no idea that Santa would be making an appearance as it turns out that a well meaning member of the church thought he’d bless the children by dressing up in costume. The children were out of their minds with excitement. They couldn’t believe they were receiving an early, personal visit from Santa.

Unfortunately, Santa didn’t go over so hot with some of the parents. You see it has become fashionable amongst Christians to boycott Santa. After all the holiday is about Jesus’ birth right? I personally am all for Santa, but many have a so called personal conviction that says there is no room for Santa in the holiday. One of my friends stated that they just want to have an “old fashion Christmas and there is no room for Santa just Christ”. Now I let that statement go at the time, but in my mind I wanted to ask:

“What do you think an old fashion Christmas is?”

I am not an expert in the history of Christmas, but I do have enough knowledge to give a taste of a true old fashion Christmas.

Before Christmas was a holiday, the holiday was known as Saturnalia. Saturnalia was a celebration to the name sake god (little g) Saturn. Saturnalia became one of the most popular Roman festivals. It was marked by tomfoolery and reversal of social roles, in which slaves and masters ostensibly switched places. It is not uncommon for the Church to mimic Pagan holidays. Halloween, Easter and yes, Christmas all have pagan roots. When the Church was looking for an official day to celebrate Jesus’ birth, they choose Saturnalia. Unfortunately, Saturnalia was much too popular and people were reluctant to change to a more moderate holiday like Christmas. So Pagans and Christians alike continued to celebrate Christmas with the same drunkenness and tomfoolery as before. The early Christmas celebrations were celebrated much like modern day Mardi Gras with a hint of Canadian Boxing Day. As time pasted, the debauchery became worse and even included breaking into the homes of rich people and stealing things. It was a citywide brawl that got so bad that women and children didn’t dare leave there homes. The old fashion Christmas was one of heavy drinking, fights, and fear amongst children. This rowdy behavior amongst Christians and Pagans continued for nearly eighteen centuries. In fact, Christmas was made illegal in the conservative United States as the church tried to put a stop to the behavior. Illegal or not, people still celebrated “Christmas” in the USA in the tradition of Saturnalia. In the 1800’s during the reformation, things started to change in Germany and when Queen Elizabeth married her German cousin, the holiday changed in England as well to a holiday centered around family, the Christmas tree, giving presents and eating turkey. It was no longer centered around drunkenness and fighting. Unfortunately, Americans preferred the holiday celebrated as Saturnalia, for quite a bit longer. It wasn’t until a poem called “A Visit from Saint Nicholas”, known in modern day as “A Night Before Christmas”, was published in the Saturday Evening Post and the Creation of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens that we saw Christmas change from a holiday of fear to a holiday of family. So we have the “minus”, Santa Claus, and the “miser”, Scrooge, to thank for Christmas as it is now celebrated in the United States.

I doubt seriously that my friend wants an old fashion Christmas.

A MESSAGE TO SANTA BASHING CHRISTIANS

Now let me talk to the Christians who are persecuting Santa. Most often than not you use the verses are found in Romans 14.

(NLT) Accept Christians who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it is all right to eat anything. But another believer who has a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who think it is all right to eat anything must not look down on those who won’t. And those who won’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn God’s servants? They are responsible to the Lord, so let him tell them whether they are right or wrong. The Lord’s power will help them do as they should.

Some are very quick to jump on those who celebrate Christmas with Santa. More then once I have been told that “Christmas is about Christ and there’s no room for Santa”. My wife’s cousin even went as far as to throw out Santa decorations that were hanging in her Grandmother’s house. Without permission she threw out decoration and even an expensive snow globe that had a picture of Santa on it! It seems to me that this is a direct violation Romans 14.

Romans 14 is referring to those who feel convicted about eating meat sacrificed to idols. Some feel this is wrong and they shouldn’t eat it. However, Paul is clear that it ISN’T actually wrong to eat the meat. He calls those, who cannot eat the meat because of a misguided conscious, people of weaker faith. He states that those who can eat the meat should not look down upon those who can’t and VISE VERSA. This same principle can be applied to Santa. Is it wrong to believe in Santa?

First, Santa was created to give Children a role model that displays the importance of giving and sacrificing in terms that they can understand. Sometimes, Jesus Christ is a lot for a small child to wrap their developing minds around. Santa, on the other hand is much easier for them to swallow. Santa is a “person” whose never seen, who seems to be everywhere, who gives without asking anything in return accept belief and good behavior. Sound like anyone you know? So Santa is not, fundamentally, wrong. If you worship Santa like a GOD then you’ve got a problem, but the fundamental character of Santa is the same as the fundamental character of Christ, and this is a GOOD thing.

Paul is stating that those with a greater conviction have a misguided conscious and weaker faith. It seems to me that if I were one of these people I would try to use education to guide my faith better. For this reason, I started this article with a brief history of a good old fashion Christmas. I have found that many of my misguided convictions are based on lack of education and once educated, my conscious has aligned with reality. If it were me I would be seeking the truth as opposed to being a slave to my misguided feelings. Lastly, all of us should try to remember that our biggest battle should not be Santa but that there are billions who are not covered by the blood of the one whose birth we truly celebrate. Jesus Christ. This is an opportunity to share Christ and we should share Christ in a loving way and NOT by throwing out snow globes and boycotting Santa.

Happy Christmas…

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  1. Very interesting. I never spent much time tracing back the history of the holiday, just always loved the lights, the sharing, etc. Thanks for the newfound information!

  2. Isn’t there more important things to worry about than Santa? How many people didn’t have food in the city on the night of the potluck? I am fairly certain that God would be happier if we helped those and kept Santa. My kids will get Santa till they are older.

    • schooloffish
    • December 21st, 2007

    Well said. Like the article mentions, we can use Santa to show the character of Jesus — a spirit of giving. This can be in form of food, clothes, shelter and the most importantly everlasting live in Christ.

  3. What has Jesus Christ in common with a heathen Santa Claus and what proof have you got that Jesus was born on 25th December. I can prove contrary from the Bible, can you any proof for yours?

    • schooloffish
    • June 7th, 2008

    I’m sorry Roy, did you actually read the article? I was writing a historical account of the creation of Santa Clause. Also, since you posted on my Can we Trust the Scriptures article, perhaps if you would have read that post as well you would have seen very clearly that I make a Biblical case for Jesus birth outside of the December 25th date. No one over the of 12 actually believes that Jesus was born on the December 25th but AS A CLEARLY STATE IN THE ARTICLE ABOVE, the early Christians choose the date to replace Saturnalia a pagan holiday.

    If you read the posts before commenting on them (or spamming on them as you seem to make a habit of making assertions on my articles) it will keep you from looking foolish.

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