Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.

"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'

"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?



VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

--Unsigned editorial, September 21, 1897, New York Sun--


  1. a wolf in santa's clothing ... just the idea is superficially cute or comforting or outwardly cheerful doesn't mean "father christmas" is not sinister - not "father" as in father, son, and the holy ghost, but probably "father" as in a priest, although as far as "holy ghost" ghost goes there's a notion that that dubious transubstantiation to consider that he is the spirt of christmas, don't you think? it functions to usurp genuine childhood feelings, religious impulses. consider for instance the conditioning to be good because of reward, "you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, i'm telling you why, santa claus is coming to town" - didn't it used to be like some messiah who was coming to save the world, wasn't it related to sin and forgiveness? but perhaps by ascribing to santa qualities of god or conscience ("he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you're awake, he knows if you've been bad or good, so you better be good for goodness sake") it mitigates the oddness the improbably disguised man wearing a dunce cap who claims to live as a recluse and impossibly works with a bunch of arguably mongrel elves and Mrs. Clause in the North Pole, rides a sleigh led by flying reindeer through the air (which sure beats walking on water) and sneaks down chimneys, and gets seasonal work where he gets other people's children to sit in his lap – better watch out indeed! coincidentally, the only other people going through what was then a house's most filthy orifice were chimney sweeps, naked prepubescent boys, but perhaps on chrismas it was rumored that father chrismas himself who plugs the flue. but in your blogging you are saying that's ok, right? under the guise of "generosity" or the "spirit of christmas," anything flies, right? santa claus - santa = saint, as in saint nick, as opposed to, of course, old nick. and then when the child outgrows santa, when the myth is laid aside along with it goes hopes, wonderment, features of an internal life. there's nothing good about santa that a meaningful upbringing can't foster more meaningfully. you don't even have to be religious, but keep this anti-religious clap-trap far away because it is damaging. yes, people are defending santa - it has become a cultural icon, as values are swept away. of course i disagree with you, and that comes across as hostile, but it is not personal, i admire your blog and values - please read twice and think on it, because santa is as comforting as certain priests who have been exposed, if only you think for a moment. peace and blessings to you.

  2. She's got some good point. Does the blogger respond?