Since 1823, when an anonymous poet wrote “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,” children wait for Christmas morning anticipating the multitude of gifts they will receive from the jolly character known as Santa Claus.
Santa Claus is one of the world’s most recognizable characters. From Coca-Cola bottles to endless television advertisements, Santa is a constant in culture’s celebration of Christmas.
There is even a yearly online event called “NORAD Track Santa,” where American military personal use “radar technology” to track Santa as he dispenses toys to all the good little boys and girls of the world.
This all seems rather innocent and fun, and perhaps it is. Yet surely, it must dawn on some parents that deceiving children, even in the name of fun, is rather unethical — especially when such deception isn’t always purely for fun.
As everyone knows, Santa only gives presents to the nice kids. The naughty ones? They get a nice big sack of coal for their transgressions. It’s not hard to see how desperate parents could easily manipulate their kids into good behavior strictly for the promise that bad behavior will be punished with a sad lump of coal.
This is all well and good for families that can afford presents, but what about those that can’t? According to the United States Census Bureau, 13.5 percent of Americans currently live in poverty.
The myth teaches children that good behavior will be rewarded with material goods. Surely it is unwise to continue this message when many well-behaved boys and girls in the United States do not receive the same gifts as their higher-income peers.
Are poor children “bad” in comparison to the rich kids that receive loads of expensive gifts on Christmas morning? Clearly not. But, certain kids may become confused when they see higher-income kids with more gifts from “Santa.”
Children in low-income and disadvantaged households need to be reassured that they alone have the power to determine the course of their lives, not some fat man in a red suit.
The materialism and consumerism the Santa Claus myth perpetuates not only damages the minds of children, it damages culture as a whole. Several religions, most notably the Christian religion, see the Christmas season as an important holiday of special remembrance.
According to a PEW research poll, 70 percent of the U.S. identifies as Christian. It is mind-boggling that this mainly Christian nation celebrates Christmas by buying hundreds of dollars worth of gifts for their children while saying it comes from a elderly man that lives in one of the world’s most secluded areas where he constantly monitors the behavior of America’s youth as if he were the head of a bizarre sister organization of the National Security Agency.
Surely Jesus Christ would have qualms with Christians celebrating his birthday by purchasing expensive coffee makers for their rich uncles while low-income families struggle to afford stocking stuffers.
Perhaps it may be said that the Santa myth allows atheist families to celebrate the holidays. Yet, a group that prides itself on it’s supposed reason and logic cannot seriously celebrate a character who reportedly undergoes the unreasonable and illogical task of providing the world with presents and gifts in a single night thanks to “magic.”
Instead of celebrating Christmas through Santa Claus, families should instead consider finding more generous ways of bringing meaning to the holiday season. Christmas is the perfect time to donate time and money to charitable organizations, while spending time with friends and family and exchanging reasonably priced gifts.
Christmas should not be spent awaiting the arrival of a man who does not exist. End the Santa myth and bring Christmas back to its original meaning once and for all.
Sam Balas can be reached at email@example.com