As the holidays approach, there is both excitement and wonder especially for children who experience the magic of Santa Claus. The question comes up every year as six and seven year-olds ask the perennial question "Is there a Santa Claus?' Parents and children are on baited breath for an answer.
I remember well the excitement I felt as a five year old almost bursting with excitement as I tried to sleep on that Christmas Eve. Santa was coming. I also remember the trauma I felt at age seven when a friend told me there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I burst into tears running home and seeking an answer. The magic and joy seems to evaporate before my eyes so much so, I can't recall the answer.
The simple answer to the question is there a Santa Claus is "Yes!" Santa Claus is the American derivative of the Dutch name for St. Nicholas, Bishop of Myra in Turkey SinterKlass, or Santa Claus. This was carried over to the US by the Dutch Settlers in New York. St. Nicholas was known to give gifts to those in need, and this tradition is carried over on his feast day Dec. 6th. I remember visiting the ruins of his church, and each year on Christmas, local Christians come and celebrate a liturgy in his honor. In the US, this gift giving was transferred to Christmas Day. Yes, the magic can continue and children can wonder again in this miracle of Christmas. More about the myths associated with Santa Claus in my next post.
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