Thursday, 10 December 2009

Santa Claus Worship: Naughty or Nice? the truth about saint nicholas

Spoiler alert: this article will examine the deception and history of Saint Nicholas. Only the strong of heart should read further.

Adults know the classic, "Yes, Virginia" reply first given to a girl who wrote a letter to the New York Sun in 1897, was an ingenious lie. But, most adults do not know that St. Nicholas was once the most popular symbol of worship for Christians worldwide. In fact, more churches in Europe are named after St. Nicholas than any of the Apostles.

Christianity claims that legend of Santa Claus dates back to a fourth century Turkish monk. Stories abound about this man of kindness who reportedly gave away his wealth and even walked on water to save the life of a drowning sailor. He also supposedly rescued three sisters from a life of prostitution by sliding bags of gold down their chimney. Because of his piety he became known as the patron saint of schoolchildren and sailors. The Christmas Almanac states, "By the height of the Middle Ages, St. Nicholas was probably invoked in prayer more than any other figure except the Virgin Mary and Christ Himself" (The Christmas Almanac. New York: Random House, 2004, p. 131)

For almost 1,000 of years, the "Feast of Saint Nicholas" was held on December 6th with merry-making and gift giving. The Feast of St Nicholas is still celebrated in several countries, including Holland and the Netherlands. (Here St. Nicholas or Sinter Klass travels from Spain instead of the North Pole to bring gifts to children.) The popular idea of a chubby St. Nick with red priestly robes and white beard was created by author Washington Irving around 1809. Just a few years later reindeer were introduced by Clement Moore in the poem 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. This poem also promoted the idea of St. Nicholas delivering presents on the night before Christmas and not on December 6. Together Moore and Irving morphed the legendary Catholic bishop into an elf that would travel the world spreading holiday cheer. The Coca-Cola Company solidified the idea of a standard image of Santa through years of advertising.

Today, the religious undertones involving Santa Claus are obvious. He is known as a carpenter/toy-maker with God-like powers. He records naughty or nice behavior in his giant book and is all knowing. Children pray to him through wish lists of toys and then wait in line to ascend his throne to sit on his lap. Like a thief in the night he distributes rewards and punishment. His crown of holly thorns, white beard, red robes, and feet that do not burn by the furnace all mimic the appearance of the Savior in Revelation 1:14-15, Isaiah 63:2, and Mark 15:17.

The fantasy of Santa Claus is real to children who are often led astray by parents who see no problem in St. Nick taking the place of the Almighty. Satanist Anton LaVey, author of the Satanic Bible and founder of the First Church of Satan, has written that "fantasy plays an important role in any religious curriculum. The subjective mind is less discriminating about the quality of its food than it is about the taste. Thus, fantasy is utilized as a magic weapon in Satanism." (Anton LaVey, The Satanic Rituals, p. 15)

For centuries, the legend of Santa has changed to match the whims of the world. It is quite puzzling how anyone who claims to know the God of the Bible can also encourage gullible children to believe in Catholic Monk-Elf figure named Saint Nicholas. Perhaps this Christmas more parents will not mislead their children and abruptly stop the worship of Santa Claus.

By Daniel Rendelman

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