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wundayatta's avatar

What is the truth to Santa Claus?

Asked by wundayatta (58367 points ) December 6th, 2011

I just answered a question about an adult telling kids (who were not hers) the “truth” about Santa Claus. In this case, the teacher (and most others) seem to think that the truth has to do with the character’s physical reality… or lack thereof.

Frankly, I think that is a pretty shallow understanding of truth. I think the truth to Santa Claus is so much deeper than that. But maybe I’m in the minority.

What do you think the truth to Santa Claus is?

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38 Answers

TexasDude's avatar

I personally prefer Krampas over Santa Claus. Beating naughty children with sticks (or even dragging them to hell in extreme cases) is just so much more effective than giving them coal (which is a somewhat valuable resource in and of itself).

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

The truth is that every one of us has the capacity to be Santa, and that the idea or spirit of Santa is very real, even if Santa the person is not. Which is one of the things I told my daughter this morning.

mazingerz88's avatar

The truth is some people can’t handle the truth about Santa Claus. That he is the jolliest fictional embodiment of joy through gift giving.

HungryGuy's avatar

“Santa Claus” is the common name for a Turkish nobleman knows as Saint Nicholas who, among other things, had a reputation for giving secret gifts to people. The Dutch pronunciation of “Saint Nicholas” is “Sinter Klass,” hence the legend of “Santa Claus” came to be beyond Turkey.

ucme's avatar

He’s a jolly fat fucker who takes all the bloody credit for kids xmas gifts.
I mean it’s okay, i’ll just spend wads of hard earned cash & take a back seat eh!?! ;¬}

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

As soon as kids start developing the capacity for abstract thought, they “get” what Santa Claus is, and the easter bunny, the tooth fairy, the boogey man, leprechauns, trolls, wizards, snipes, etc. I don’t see any of them as a deep, reverent “truth.”

Qingu's avatar

It’s a bullshit story that parents tell their kids as a kind of practice for the more grownup lies about God (he knows when you’re naughty and when you’re nice, he keeps a list and checks it twice) and consumerism (our consumer goods are delivered to us by magical elves, so don’t worry about how they’re manufactured, what they cost, or who they exploit) that are widely believed in American society.

wundayatta's avatar

@Qingu Are you saying that Santa is the ultimate stalker??? I am shocked, I tell you! Shocked!

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@Qingu I was actually thinking of pointing that out myself, but decided to chicken out. Santa Claus, like God, is to scare the innocent into submission with promises of rewards or threats of punishments.

Qingu's avatar

Ladies and gentlemen: let the war on Christmas begin.

mazingerz88's avatar

Never ever touch Santa! I’m entitled to my sweet delusions! Grrr! This economy needs him now more than evveeer! ( you Grinches )

laineybug's avatar

I believe that Santa is an idea that people should give, and not only want to receive. Santa gives kids presents all the time but never asks for anything back. He works hard all year to make people that didn’t do anything for him except be a generally good person happy. It’s also a way to teach kids to behave well and then keep the habit as an adult. Although the character of santa is kind of creepy. He’s kind of like a reverse thief, breaking in and leaving things instead of taking them.

linguaphile's avatar

@laineybug I like to think he teleports, not breaks in :D

I posted this song on another thread—it’s a perfect musical representation of what I believe Santa is—the belief in kindness, sharing, magic, goodwill among humans.

Blondesjon's avatar

@Qingu . . . i’m sorry your christmas was such a horrible time for you. <hug>

Symbeline's avatar

Why the hell do they show artwork of Odin, Norse god of death and war, in the Wiki entry for Santa Claus? Man, the truth must be some creepy shit, and I don’t think I wanna know what it is.

I don’t think there’s any big truth to it really, that couldn’t be found by reading on the origins of Santa Claus, and the customs and traits passed down from the source. Earliest I can find is this Saint-Nicholas dude. I once heard though, that this Saint Nick dude was a guy in some village who would punish kids who disobeyed their parents, and whipped them. Doesn’t sound much like the guy I’m reading about now though.

But I don’t understand how all that became cultural myth and why. Kind of like Halloween, where on Samhain, people put out offerings to appease the dead that were believed to stalk the living, but now it’s a perfectly harmless holiday. There’s some transition that went down with the years, the beliefs and the cultures that people saw fit to keep in some shape or form, because it was important to them. But I don’t know if that’s the truth you’re looking for, and anyways, I don’t know what it is, myself.

Also, what does the resurrection of Jesus teh Christz have to do with bunnies delivering chocolate? Don’t bunnies just poop everywhere? What the ass kinda relation are they tryna make here?
I don’t get that either, but Happy Halloween! :D

On a more serious note, @Qingu is depressing me with his answer. However, the man makes sense.

linguaphile's avatar

@Symbeline I’ve always thought bunnies represented fertility and spring represents fertility as well. Nothing to do with Jesus, but the Jesuits had to sell his resurrection to the pagans somehow.

Symbeline's avatar

@Michael_Huntington ’‘raises axe’’ :D

@linguaphile Lols. I guess it’s logical that Jesus should come back in Spring, since it’s all fertility and shit. ’‘raises mug’’ :D

mazingerz88's avatar

The truth is that he is coming to town and later on I would see mommy kissing him! Diggity!

judochop's avatar

Christ! Santa Clause is not a made up story to fucking gateway in to stories about Jesus and or God or Bible or consumerism.
He is a simple historic, folklore character and symbol of imagination, stories and something mystical to share.
He is magical. He brings gifts made by hand.
He lives in the North Pole, has a bad ass sleigh and owns magical reindeer whom which all have a story of their own.
To some he is hope.
To some he is the only symbol of family they have.
Santa is awesome and children should know just that.
Beyond Santa, Christmas is what you (the adult) makes of it. What your children think of Christmas falls on your shoulders.
I personally think by telling children he is not real only stops the imagination and starts another way of thinking.
All in all, the truth about Santa=Fucking awesome.

Qingu's avatar

I don’t really see what Santa has to do with imagination. Or how telling the truth about Santa would somehow stop imagination.

Blondesjon's avatar

it’s quite a stretch of the imagination to equate santa with a christian agenda . . .

judochop's avatar

@Qingu it’s not that it would stop the imagination at all. I think that it just starts a different level of imagination. Sort of a let down really.
And as far as it being widely believed by only Americans….Not true. Probably more loved and believed in Germany and through parts of Europe and Russia.

Qingu's avatar

Why is it a let down that a ridiculous fat man in a red suit with impossible and absurd magic powers doesn’t exist?

I’d think it would almost be a relief. Especially if said child associates Santa with the creature in the Invader Zim Christmas special.

Or are you talking about a more general “loss of innocence” let down as children learn that magic does not exist, gifts cost money, bad people sometimes are not punished and good people suffer?

judochop's avatar

@Qingu if we don’t see eye to eye on this, that is fine.
I don’t care what others want to tell their kids. I have a 10 year old who is almost 11 and she’s figured it out on her own yet she still believes.
There is nothing ridiculous about fantasy unless you don’t want folks to see anything but what’s right in front of them all the time. I think that sounds boring.
None of the gifts I give on Xmas cost me money. Bad people are not punished sometimes and good people suffer has shit to do with Xmas and or Santa, it’s just life and choosing to be so bitter about it will only hurt yourself.
You’re right, fuck Xmas. The idea of it is just absurd. Who needs to believe in hope? That’s just silly.

Qingu's avatar

I have nothing against fantasy.

My problems with Santa Claus: (1) it’s fantasy that’s presented as truth to gullible kids, and (2) it’s not even good fantasy. It’s a stupid story. Good kids get gifts, bad kids get nothing, as doled out by a supernatural elf who can see into your mind. That’s not a good moral to be teaching our children. I find it a little creepy, actually.

I would also argue that Santa has absolutely nothing to do with hope. And while I have no love for Christmas, I actually have no problem with the pagan holiday upon which Christmas is based, the solstice celebration of Saturnalia. I celebrate Saturnalia by reflecting on what time means (Saturn was the Roman god of time). I like that there is a holiday situated in the darkest time of year, to ward off seasonal depression.

judochop's avatar

So Santa is stupid to you. I get that.
The story of Santa is not a moral story. It is just a story. Just like the Easter Bunny or the Pot O Gold at the end of the rainbow, or even the tooth fairy.
Most people figure this out, all of it on their own by the age of 9 or 10.
What you celebrate is a religious holiday. What I celebrate is the birth of Christ, which has nothing to do with Santa. It has nothing to do with gifts. It has nothing to do with Saturn. It is a very separate thing.
If you desire to assimilate the two together then do so but for me and for the bottom line of the story, they are two very different things.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@judochop I agree that Santa Claus and the religious aspect of Christmas are two different things. I don’t think anyone here disagrees with that. We are specifically discussing the “Santa Claus” part. I also agree that it is just a story to have fun with, and should be presented as such.

judochop's avatar

@Skaggfacemutt yeah I agree. I said that a few lines up. Qingu and I are having fun with this.

wundayatta's avatar

@Qingu Bad fantasy or good, do you have a problem with suspense of disbelief of any kind? It seems to me that all people, kid or adult, have no problem suspending disbelief whether or not they know that Santa isn’t “real.” Many of us like to act as if he is real, the same as we might act as if some vampire or zombie were real, or that Mickey Mouse is real or any other character.

These characters stand for something—probably something different for every individual. Santa may stand for something stupid for you, and stand for hope for someone else and stand for magic for yet a third person. For me, he stands for tradition. For an excuse to give presents. For a way of goosing the economy. For fun with the kids as we all play a pantomime.

Qingu's avatar

@wundayatta, I disagree that Santa is presented to young children as a matter of suspending disbelief. It’s not like little kids are “in on the joke.”

And the Santa mythos is usually not presented that way either. Look at Miracle on 34th Street. It’s not a story about how we all knowingly pretend that this crazy person really is Santa to give hope and cheer to the season. It’s a story about how this apparently crazy person really is Santa (for how else would he know to speak Dutch to that little girl?) and only mean-spirited folks are skeptical.

And yes, stories and myths mean different things to different people. But Santa has always and most commonly been associated with a Christian-style carrot/stick theology alongside heavyhanded consumerism… neither of which I’m very fond of, obviously. If you want to interpret Santa as meaning something vague like “hope,” fine, though I don’t know why you’d interpret Santa that way.

Qingu's avatar

@judochop, most of the trappings of Christmas, including the date (solstice), the Christmas tree, mistletoe, wreaths, gift-giving and feasts, and “Yuletide,” have nothing to do with Jesus Christ. They were taken directly from pagan Europeans and the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. The whole reason we celebrate Christmas on December 25, rather than when Jesus was allegedly born (the Bible says sometime in Spring) is because the medieval church wanted to market its religion to European pagans and figured it could do so by co-opting their own popular celebration into Christianity.

Sort of like how corporate forces have now co-opted the Christmas holiday into their own “religion” by encouraging people to go on spending sprees, buying largely useless shit they and their gift-recepients don’t need or even want.

judochop's avatar

@Qingu I want a new Xobx360 for Xmas, please…

wundayatta's avatar

@Qingu I want to interpret Santa as the spirit of helping other people. Unlike you, I think that consumerism is a good thing because it is the best way of stimulating the economy and that is the best way of helping people: putting resources in their pockets.

I am kind of surprised that people are against materialism in this season and yet in favor of it when they talk about the economy. I (think I) know you believe in stimulating the economy by putting money in the hands of working and poor people. Why do you see the Christmas way of stimulating the economy as something bad?

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

@wundayatta I have a real problem with other people telling me what to do. It must be my anti-establishment streak left over from the ‘60’s, but when society really hypes something up (like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Christmas in general), that is when I get turned off. No one tells me what to do, and no amount of car commercials will ever cause me to buy a car for Christmas! Just saying..

Qingu's avatar

@wundayatta, that’s a fair point. I have been going on about stimulating demand. I guess I’m talking about something deeper here. Motivating consumers to buy a bunch of stuff is probably the best policy for combating unemployment right now. But in the grand scheme of things, I wish people would place less value on acquiring stuff, especially stuff they don’t need and will never use.

brooklyn1213's avatar

I believe. In santa ;)

talljasperman's avatar

A conspiracy to sell more coke, also the Canadian flag is red and white just like the colours of Santa’s outfit. Santa is a Canadian he lives on the Canadian side of the north pole. Every thing else is hushed up like the elf slave labour camps.

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