How to Celebrate Santa Claus and Christianity
Yes, You Can Incorporate Santa into a Christian Christmas
Christmas is fast approaching as I write this, and with it comes the annual dilemma of many Christians with young children - should we teach the kids about Santa Claus? This week I've seen posts on Facebook from two parents who are struggling with the idea of whether to let their young kids believe in Santa. Both are afraid that it will take away from their celebration of the birth of Christ. I think you can successfully celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday and still let your kids enjoy the magic of Santa Claus.
A few years ago, I wrote an article about what I was planning to tell my kids about Santa Claus. In it, I said that I wanted them to know that today's Santa Claus is based on the good deeds of Saint Nicholas, a real person who lived in the third century. Nicholas of Myra was a bishop, and he embodied the teachings of Christ. He was kind and generous, especially to the poor, and he left behind a legacy of generosity that continues thousands of years later. Very few people will ever have that type of impact on history, and I think it's something worth celebrating.
Teaching Kids About Santa and Jesus
But how do you incorporate the idea of Santa into a Christian celebration? And how do you explain all the mystery surrounding Santa?
Teach your kids that Santa is also celebrating the birth of Jesus
One good way is to explain to your kids that the gifts Santa brings are a celebration of Christ's birth, just as the presents we give each other during the holiday season. For young kids, a really good book that can help instill this idea is "Santa's Birthday Gift." My daughter loves this short, rhyming story of how Santa Claus followed the star to Bethlehem and promised the Christ Child that each year he would remember Him by delivering toys to good girls and boys on Christ's birthday. It's a simple book that will instill in children the idea that all Christmas gifts, even those delivered by Santa, are a celebration of the birth of Christ.
Explain Santa's mystery with Bible scripture
You can also incorporate Bible teachings in your family's discussions about Santa. For instance, why does jolly old St. Nick always come at night when everyone's sleeping? The Bible says we should do good deeds in secret. In the Book of Matthew, we are instructed,"So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you...But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret." (Bible Hub)
Put limits on Santa's generosity
You may also want to limit the number of presents brought by Santa. I know one family in which the kids only receive three gifts at Christmas because Jesus received gold, frankincense and myrrh. Others may choose to have Santa "deliver" only one gift. This will prevent kids from focusing on the material aspects of the holiday.
Let Santa remind your kids that he's not the focus of the season
You might also want to have St. Nick send the kids a Christian Santa letter so Santa himself can explain that gifts are not the point of the holiday. This will let your children enjoy Santa letters like other kids, but will keep the emphasis on the celebration of Christ's birthday.
There are plenty of fun ways to celebrate the birth of Christ and still enjoy Santa, too!
For another perspective, this article from Christianity Today gives more thoughts on how Santa Claus can be part of your celebrations.
Does Santa Take Away from the True Meaning of Christmas?
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