My family doesn't celebrate Santa Claus at Christmas. We don't put Santa decorations in our house or on our lawn. We never told our son that Santa would bring him presents. We never took him to get pictures with Santa. In fact, the first time our son saw someone dressed up like Santa, he thought it was someone dressed as Moses because all the story book drawings of Moses depict him having a long white beard and wearing a robe. And yes, I was one of those evil parents who encouraged my son to tell other kids that Santa isn't real. Santa has never had a place in our home, and he never will.
Would you like to know why I am so adamantly opposed to a jolly old man who brings gifts to children? I just read something that illustrates my hatred for all things Santa Claus in a very vivid way. I was reading a prayer letter from a missionary friend in Japan when I came across this statement:
"At this time of year, throughout Japan we see Santa, snowmen, and Christmas trees. There are no nativity scenes. You may hear the Christmas carols over the radio, but these are in English. When you ask someone if they know what the song is about, they answer, 'No.' In Japan, there is nothing more to Christmas."
That sad observation is the primary reason that we don't promote Santa at all in our house. You may argue that Japan is so different from America that we don't have to worry about Christ being absent from Christmas here, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I guarantee that you will not be able to find a single individual over the age of five anywhere in the entire United States who does not know who Santa Claus is (with the possible exception of those crazy, homeschooled Christian kids), but you can go witnessing in any major city in America – yes, even in the Bible belt – and find hundreds, if not thousands, of people who have never heard the name Jesus Christ except as a swear word.
When Japan sought to mimic our culture after World War II, they adopted Santa Claus and ignored Christ, and as each new generation of Americans decides which of their parents' traditions to adopt as their own, more and more of them are making the same decision that the Japanese made. I decided long before I started a family that all the traditions in my house would be distinctly Christian. Whether it’s my son or my neighbor, no one will ever look at my family and wonder whether Christmas is more about Santa bringing gifts or about the gift of Christ as the Savior of the world.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
Contact Us if you would like to schedule Bill to speak to your church, group, or club.
"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)