Every Christmas season, consumerism envelops America and throws everyone into a shopping frenzy. Perhaps the most famous mascot for the American-consumerist Christmas is not Jesus Christ, but Santa Claus.
Santa Claus is rooted in Christian tradition and comes from Saint Nicholas, a bishop from an area that was once ancient Greece and is now Turkey.
Saint Nicholas is known as the patron saint of children. This religious aspect of Santa Claus is what makes it so easy to tie him to the legend we tell children.
But these historical facts are mere details that expand his legend — details that are not part of many people’s understanding of the American version of Santa Claus.
Many American children grow up believing Santa Claus is a jolly fat man in a red suit who rides around on Christmas Eve delivering presents to all the good girls and boys. Many movies have centered around him or featured him, “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Elf” and “The Polar Express” being just a few.
But once you get older, who cares about this childhood figure? He doesn’t really exist anyway, right?
I anticipate those who say Santa Claus does not exist would ask me to prove his existence as it is told in the legend — with the big red suit, reindeer, etc. I cannot do this because Santa Claus does not corporally exist.
However, I would attribute to him a phenomenon just as impressive — if not more — than one man who can deliver presents to millions every year.
What if something caused Americans to spend more than 1 trillion dollars every year? What if that event happened every year?
That event exists in America, and it’s called Christmas.
But spending and gift giving are not the only activities of value that come from the holiday season. As it turns out, Santa Claus is a great job creator.
Each year during the December holidays, U.S. companies hire hundreds of thousands of seasonal workers to assist with the increase in shopping.
During the Christmas season, everybody wins. People give and receive gifts, businesses get a dependable bump in sales and more workers are hired.
But what does any of this have to do with Santa Claus? Couldn’t the Christmas season in America be just fine without him? After all, the holiday is not celebrating his birthday.
So much of the American marketing of Christmas revolves around Santa Claus. Trying to tell a person about an American Christmas without mentioning the jolly old elf would be an incomplete description by anyone’s measure.
He is on Coca-Cola advertisements, in Christmas movies, at shopping malls, on wrapping paper, in Christmas songs and more. For about one month every year, Santa becomes omnipresent.
The Santa Claus denier must answer this: if, for an entire month, a man is in your ears, on your lips and in your sight, how non-existent is he?
As a collective, we make Santa Claus exist. Every time you go out and buy a Christmas gift for a loved one and say it’s “from Santa,” you are acting in his place. If you are a parent who eats the cookies and drinks the milk your kids “left for Santa Claus,” you have acted in his stead. You have kept the saint alive.
Some may think telling children Santa exists is lying, but I do not think so. The idea that Santa Claus exists by proxy is too advanced for most 6 year olds.
As with most complicated concepts, they are best left explained to children in a simple manner and then expanded on later. And even if continuing the Santa Claus legend were something other than the truth, who is any one of us to deny a child the hope and joy Santa Claus brings?
The Christmas season is perhaps the one time of the year we act a little nicer to each other. Using collective action to keep Santa Claus alive is the least we can do.