Santa. I know, not usually a topic for church. But, why not?
Our Santa has his origins as Saint Nicholas, a Third Century monk from present day Turkey, who was admired for his piety and kindness. Not a bad thing. He eventually became known as the protector of sailors and children. Again, not bad. His feast day was celebrated on the anniversary of his death – December 6. He was especially popular in Holland after the Reformation. Santa made his way to America toward the end of the 18th Century when Dutch families gathered to remember St. Nicholas. “Santa Claus” is a derivation of what they called him in Dutch. His image took shape with the publication of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, written by Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal minister. Hmmmm.
Unlike many holidays (Holy Days) that we celebrate which have roots in secular and even pagan feasts and celebrations, Christmas has always been about the birth of Jesus, the Christ. And, Santa, whose roots are those of a Saint, isn’t too far afield of what Christ personified – love, grace, charity, kindness, and peace.
Yes, we have made a mess of Christmas with our uncontrolled excesses, unbridled materialism, competitive consumerism, and the exhaustion, impatience, intolerance, and ill tempers that naturally follow. But, you don’t have to look too far to find Christ in Christmas – just look for the love. For Christ’s sake. And, for our own.