Thursday, December 20, 2012

Why We Don't "Celebrate" Santa Claus

Santa Claus seems to be a widespread debate amongst Christians. Whether it's to avoid him completely or embrace him fully or to be somewheres in the middle, there are so many reasonings behind it all. We have decided not to "celebrate" Santa, but we aren't avoiding him altogether. I've had several people question our decision purely as a way to learn more, so I thought today, as we approach Christmas Day quickly, I'd share a little behind why we have decided to bring in certain parts of the Santa excitement but stay away from most of it.

David and I both grew up in strong "anti" Santa homes, if you will. I grew up always responding to the question, "What's Santa bringing you for Christmas?" with the response: "Oh, we don't celebrate him," which always elicited the most surprised looks on adults face. In my house growing up, we knew mom and dad supplied gifts that made it under our tree and into our stockings. When I was little we also mostly stayed away from any movies and books that were focussed on Santa. We did have the rule that if a child asked us about Santa, we were to respond, "He doesn't visit our house because we don't celebrate him" so as not to ruin some other child's belief. I still remember thinking my 11 year old friend was probably old enough and knew of Santa's non-existence, and then breaking her heart when I casually mentioned, "Oh, well you know he's not real..."

St. Nicholas traditions made it into my family's annual celebration later in my childhood, closer to when I was nearly done with high school. This is something our family has chosen to embrace fully. If you want to see how we celebrate, read my post: Celebrating Holy Days: St. Nicholas Day from earlier this month.

We love legends and stories. We love teaching our kids of the truths of our Faith. We love whimsey and magic, and we love passing on traditions. But, as far as Santa Claus is concerned, we have chosen to focus on Christ for Christmas and to celebrate St. Nicholas on his feast day for the godly, loving, and giving man he was rather than "believe in" the jolly, plump man that magically slides down the chimney to deliver gifts galore.

And here is why:

We don't want to purposefully deceive our children. I know Santa Claus isn't real, and I plan on teaching my little ones that. I'd rather not create this false world for them to believe in, only to dash their dreams in a decade when they learn I made it all up.

I truly abhore the gimmies. I hate the lists in which children write down their demands. Granted, I don't believe that every family who celebrates Santa goes to the full extreme, but I have seen way too many kids declare how Santa better be bringing them this ridiculously overpriced item. Really? That's the "giving" spirit that Santa brings? I just don't want it in my house.

And lastly, we already have a #1 star of the holiday. Why do I need to create a competitor? In our house, we talk about Jesus' birth, make plans for his cake, and prepare for His coming as Emmanuel all throughout the season of Advent. Why would I bring in a 2nd character to "share the glory" on Christmas Day?

We want to teach our children that the Feast of the Nativity is a miraculous and glorious event, not to be foreshadowed by a man squeezing down our non-existent chimney to deliver up the goods. We want them to know the true "goods" are our Salvation and Christ being with us, not the latest toy.

So, yes, we do still read tales, sing songs, and watch movies about Santa Claus. He's a lovely made up and fun person to enjoy. But, we've chosen to never impress upon our children that he is real. Rather we have chosen to embrace him as a fictional character that falls way behind the Nativity story and the Christ Child in our Christmas celebrations.

Please note, this is just our personal decision, not a standard we're judging anybody by. So, please don't feel like I think you're wrong or leading your children astray in how you choose to celebrate Christmas. Everyone has a reason for they way they do things; this is just ours. 

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This post Why We Don't "Celebrate" Santa Claus first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 20 December 2012


  1. It's always fun to hear new takes on this subject - I have to admit we're doing "santa" because it's still just a fun memory from my childhood that I want to share it. I never remember learning that Santa was fictional - I think I always kind of knew, but I still had fun "believing" in him the way I "believed" in fairies and all sorts of magical things - in a "it'd be really cool if this was true, but I know it's not" kind of way.

    I love that my son knows to say "Ho Ho Ho", but asks for the "Nick" movie more than anything (Veggies Tales St. Nick Story) right now. I have a feeling my answer to "is he real" will probably be "He's as real as you want him to be". I think celebrating St. Nicks day will really help detract from Santa on Christmas Day (I hope!).

    As for the "gimmies" I agree, I'll have to cross this bridge when I get there (I never did Santa letters, though my parents would ask me what I'd like), but I do remember last year being behind the two kids in the line for a Santa at a holiday show in town - the girls list was two pages, front and back and her brother just brought in a dog-eared Toys-R-Us catalog... OYE! Santa will definitely be bring small treats, socks and underwear in our house (and the occasional small gift) - All real presents will come from Mom and Dad.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Molly! I love hearing of how others incorporate family traditions and make it work for them. I love how practical your Santa is as well.

  2. This was wonderful, Sarah.
    We "did" Santa when I was a little kid, and I remember being emotionally devastated when I found out he wasn't real. As the story goes, I realized on my own that either the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny wasn't real, and then my dad told me that Santa wasn't real either. (the ironic thing is that now my dad, with his white beard, gets recognized by little kids as "Santa!" wherever he goes around this time of year!) After that, if there was a big gift my parents had gotten for us, the tag would say "From Santa", but we knew it was my parents who really got it.

    I don't remember ever having "the gimmies" at Christmas. I was always thankful for whatever I got and usually got more than I ever expected, because my mom shops throughout the year and loves giving gifts. Most times she can't wait until Christmas.

    I don't judge my parents for celebrating Santa when I was a kid, but it was something I didn't want to do if I had kids someday....because I remember how upset I felt when I learned the truth. I agree with your take completely. I am not adverse to telling kids about St Nicolas or watching Santa movies, There certainly is nothing wrong with legends or fantasy. But I never want to create an illusion of a false reality.

    1. Kira, that emotional devastation is definitely something we want to stay away from. We aren't planning to do the tooth fairy or Easter bunny either, but I do hope to create some special tooth tradition all the same. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I'm so thankful to read things like this! We live in an area where Santa is really big, and sometimes it's hard for me to explain why we don't "do" Santa. We are like you, in that we don't avoid Santa-- I've explained to my kids who he was and what he did-- but I really want Christmas to be about Jesus.
    I hadn't heard of St. Nicholas Day, but I'm really excited about that- thanks for the info!

    1. It is so hard, especially living in a culture where you fear you might ruin some other child's "belief" in Santa. We do read books and watch Christmas movies that include Santa Claus, and we liken him to Paul Bunyan or some of the tales told of St. George. Based upon a real man, fantasized into something way magical. =) St. Nicholas Day does make for a fun, fun option, too. Best of luck as you venture forth!


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