taboo subject among Christian families at Christmastime is often the issue of what to do with Santa Claus. Yes, No, Maybe?… What’s the right answer? Is there one?
(I know that Christmas is already upon us, but I’ve been asked this question by parents multiple times, so figured it would still be worth addressing, wether it’s currently helpful or helpful for the future.)
While there are many God-loving Christians on both sides of the Santa aisle, and I’m friends with many who share differing opinions, I’d like to share a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful.
Let me start by stating that the true meaning of Christmas is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Regardless of those who would try to prove otherwise, Christmas is a Christian holiday. There is no reason to celebrate Christmas if we’re not celebrating Christ, and the more emphasis we can place on Christ, the better.
So, what about Santa Clause? Was he a real guy? To a certain extent, yes. The idea of Santa Claus is based loosely on the man St. Nicholas of the fourth century AD who was a kind and generous man. However, much “make-believe” is added to the story to come up with the Santa Claus we have today.
Now, I’ll have to admit that there are some legitimate concerns of those who are hesitant to promote Santa Claus at Christmastime. Some of them being:
- Santa is often attributed characteristics that only belong to God. (primarily, omniscience… “He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake, He knows if you’ve been bad or good.” etc. etc.)
- The emphasis surrounding Santa is one of rewards based on good works outweighing bad. This is the opposite of why Jesus came in the first place, because none of us could possibly be good enough. The true meaning of Christmas is found in the fact that God gave us unconditionally what we could never deserve.
- Santa often takes attention away from Christ as the central figure of Christmas. Any honest Christian would have to admit that “Santa” does get a lot more attention during Christmas than he deserves. We all know that our enemy loves to divert attention away from Christ, and will use any means possible to do it, however innocent it may seem.
- Why would parents want to give credit to a fictitious character for the gifts their kids receive? Do we really want our kids’ gratitude to be directed towards someone they can never truly express it to?
- Santa is not real (I hope your kids aren’t reading this), and kids are going to eventually find that out.
So, what should we do with Santa Claus? Where is a Christian family to draw the line? Is there a clear line to be drawn? According to Romans 14, God will be our ultimate Judge, and with that thought in mind, I think that we would all do well on certain issues like this to heed the words of Romans 14:5 to “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” This is part of the liberty that we have been given in Christ.
Whether you choose to include Santa Claus in your Christmas celebrations or not, here are a few important things to remember:
- Jesus is ESSENTIAL to the meaning of Christmas. Santa Claus is ADDITIONAL to the meaning of Christmas. In other words, you can remove Santa Claus from Christmas, and still celebrate what Christmas is all about, but you can’t take Jesus out of Christmas without removing it’s meaning altogether.
- You need to find the right balance that you and your God-given conscience is comfortable with. Let’s face it, we all grew up in different families, with differenttraditions, and different opinions, so we’re naturally going to view things differently. And that should be okay. I know Christian families who go all the way with Santa Claus… those who choose to have limited fun with the idea, without any pressure to convince their children of Santa’s existence… while other families choose to avoid it altogether. I have my personal opinions, just as you have yours, but even if our opinions differ, as Christians, we should each be able to respect that, realizing that it should not be a dividing issue. (I very highly doubt that when we all get to Heaven some day, God will separate the Santa lovers from the Santa haters.)
- Keep Jesus at the center of attention. Colossians 1:18 states of Christ “that in all things he might have the preeminence.” I’ll be the bad guy and say it – if Santa takes the place of Jesus or is given greater priority over Jesus in your Christmas traditions and celebrations, well… you’re wrong. Jesus is still the reason for the season! But regardless of what you choose to do with Santa, I trust that we can agree on this – that Jesus should be given #1 priority at Christmas! Jesus is what Christmas is all about, and anytime that anything takes priority over what really matters, it should become a concern.
If you have little children, now is a great time as mom and dad to sit down and discuss your thoughts and feelings about how to handle Santa. If your children are already older or grown, it still makes for a great discussion as a family. If you have questions that I can help answer, I’d be glad to share with you how we’ve personally handled the Santa Claus issue in our Christian home.
So.. whether you are Anti-Santa, So-So-Santa, or Pro-Santa, I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. And I hope that regardless of what you decide on the issue, that you will remember to show the love of Christ to others at this season, both inside and outside of the body of Christ.
MERRY CHRISTMAS from our family to yours!