Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Santa is not the anti-Christ

Santa Claus gets a bad rap from many Christians seeking to "put Christ back into Christmas". Christ never left; it is we who have shifted our emphasis and our priorities.

Today, December 6, is the feast day of St. Nicholas. Actual knowledge of the original Santa Claus is pretty sketchy. He was a Bishop in the fourth century, tortured and imprisoned under the emperor Diocletian, and somehow came to be a patron saint of sailors, as well as being extolled for his generosity to children. I'm not sure if you have to actually die from persecution to be considered a martyr for Christ, but since red is the vestment color reserved for martyrs, it seems appropriate that we find Santa in a red suit. It is also in keeping with Jesus' teachings that we bless and protect children, as well as give generously to the poor. Santa himself was no anti-Christ, he was a faithful follower, willing to be persecuted for the faith.

In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer collect for St. Nicholas, the prayer bids us to follow his example in providing "the happiness of children and safety of sailors, relief of the poor and those tossed by tempests of doubt or grief." Anyone, even non-sailors, can relate to those kinds of tempests. Grief and doubt... both emotions strike us at the core of who we are, and paralyze us from becoming who we want to be. Not quite as insidious as anger and fear, but they are related.

Perhaps this Christmas we could ask Santa for gifts that give meaning and purpose to our everyday lives, rather than a new ipod or gameboy to distract us from the fact that we have lost sight of our meaning and purpose.


kpjara said... that is sacrilegious! LOL

Good post.

Nicole said...

wow...I bought an Ipod for my hubby to give his old one to my brother. (Buying him a new one would be too extravagent of a gift; they can't reciporcate.) Where do I fall on the giving? :)