Balancing Santa and The Savior

You probably have already heard yourself several times this holiday using the phrase, “The real meaning of Christmas.” It may not be those exact words, but the sentiment is common among Christian teachers and parents. Why do we constantly have to point out the real meaning of Christmas?

The truth is because “Christmas” doesn’t generally mean the same thing to everyone, and some Christmas narratives do, in fact, overshadow the “real meaning of Christmas.” So, how do we find balance between the biblical narrative of Christmas as Jesus’ birthday and all of the other fun Christmas traditions that try to take center stage? Here are some thoughts on balancing Santa and the Savior…

Balance is Key

My dad always said, “There is a ditch on both sides of the road.” This bit of wisdom is especially applicable when it comes to balancing the ideas of Santa and the birth of our Savior at Christmas time. There are different schools of thought on how to handle these two Christmas narratives.

In one ditch we have Santa only, and unfortunately there are millions of children who do not learn until later in life (if ever) that Christmas has anything to do with Jesus at all.

And in the other ditch we have anti-Santa ideas which can be pretty harsh and not much fun at Christmas time.

So, can Christians find a good balance between the two? The answer is “sure.” From a Christian perspective Christ should take center stage in everything, and certainly at Christmas, but that does not mean that Santa traditions cannot fit in as well.

The Obvious Problem

One of the challenges of balancing the Santa narrative with the Nativity narrative is that neither story mentions the other. Santa is obviously not mentioned in the Bible, and most modern Santa ideas do not mention Christ.

This problem can easily be resolved by taking children back a few centuries and introducing them to the origins of the Santa tale. Legends of St. Nicholas are steeped in Christian ideals and Biblical principals. Helping children understand how the Santa story has evolved over the years will help them see that even Santa’s real goal is to glorify the Savior.

Books like Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend, by Julie Stiegemeyer are very helpful in guiding children through the history of St. Nicholas.

So, in balancing Santa and the Savior, there is no reason why both Santa and Christ can’t be a part of our Christmas traditions. At the heart of both stories is the ultimate story of the selflessness, sacrifice, and love of the Father in Jesus, and that is “the real meaning of Christmas.”

Sarah Reeves

You can see all of the articles by Sarah on Sunday School Zone.

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