Social Question

olivier5's avatar

Why Santa Claus, Father Xmas, St Nicolas, etc?

Asked by olivier5 (3074points) December 4th, 2016

When my mother was a kid, it was Jesus himself who was bringing her the gifts on his birthday. In my father’s northern France it was St Nicolas. And I get that Santa is just a modern, non-religious version of all that. But why do we feel the need to perpetuate that tradition? It takes some lying to kids, which is supposed to be bad and we teach them kids not to lie…

Don’t get me wrong, i love the tradition too, but i don’t know why i love it and why i enforce it, like everybody else.

Your thoughts?

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138 Answers

Sneki95's avatar

Oh my God….
Would you please drop the “We are lying to our kid” thing?

We lie to them about tons of other things, and they grow up and move on with their lives with no consequences. If a kid comes to you and asks where do babies come from, would you really tell them about sex? Of course not! Even if you do, the child wouldn’t understand anyways. That’s why you make up the story about storks. Your kid will grow up and realize storks have nothing to do with human babies, but hardly any adult will resent mom and dad for lying about storks. If that happens, the problem is not in the parents.
Santa is the same. No kid would have major breakdown upon finding out Santa doesn’t exist. Do you even remember the day you realized it? Yeah, it’s that unimportant.

It’s not about whether is Santa real or not, or whether we lie to our young ones. Santa is one of the most harmless lies you can come up with. It’s not about validity of the story. It’s about giving a gift to a child. I don’t have kids, but even I know that making a child happy and giving them a nice present is nothing but noble. Who will you give a gift to if not a child?

You wonder why you love the tradition? Because you love to give and get gifts, like every other decent human. Because you yourself realize that there really isn’t anything wrong with Santa. It’s not about him, it’s about making someone happy and have a nice time. If there is someone who deserves that, it’s a child.

Enjoy the holiday for what it is and don’t let cynical cheap asses make you guilty for the most mundane things. If our biggest problem were enforcing something as harmless as Santa, we would be a very happy world.

cazzie's avatar

Why the Easter Bunny? Why the Tooth Fairy? Why Elsa and Anna? This isn’t a good question. Do you know kids? Do you spend time with them regularly? It doesn’t seem so.

ucme's avatar

Oh good grief, these type of self righteous, negative questions pop up here every fucking xmas…(yeh, I got rid of the nazarene & replaced him with an X…shock, horror)
I remember loads of comments stating the lying to your kids thing & debating the far end of a fart & where it comes from, behave yourselves & give your heads a wobble.
Xmas & Santa are cool & here to stay, deal with it Grinchoids.

olivier5's avatar

Jeee… Calm down, people. It’s just a question. Who’s grumpy now?

Seek's avatar

I don’t teach my son to honestly believe in Santa, or the stork (seriously… Does anyone still talk about the stork?), or Jesus, or any other fictional characters.

We still take part in the harmless traditions of the holiday because it’s fun, but that’s it.

I do remember finding out Santa wasn’t real – the exact moment. I was devastated. Santa was a VERY elaborate lie in my family.

cazzie's avatar

I remember finding out about Santa not being real in a pretty dumb way and being upset. I think I was in kindergarten or first grade. It felt like just one more joke my siblings and parents played on me because I was the youngest. I think there is a time to stop pretending or a way to convey the story in a way so that kids know it’s all pretend, but fun pretend. I think my kid pretended to think that Santa was real so he would get more presents. He did believe in the tooth fairy, though. He had me write notes to her telling her to leave the tooth and the money because he wanted to keep his tooth. He didn’t believe for long, though and I didn’t perpetuate it.

I’m wishing there was a real ‘braces fairy’ because it looks like he’s going to need braces and it isn’t covered by the public insurance programme here. His dentistry is free, but the orthodontics aren’t.

JLeslie's avatar

It makes more sense to me for Santa to bring magically appearing gifts than Jesus. If I believed in God, and wanted my kids to believe in God, I wouldn’t tell them something that will later by found to be a complete and obvious falsehood. God you have to keep abstract, and to things you can’t prove so to speak, to keep that idea going.

I don’t consider telling Santa stories to be lying to your kids. It’s a story, a tale, a fable, like so many we tell to our children.

I didn’t have Santa growing up, but he existed for the Christian children I knew.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Why are all the gift givers male? Talk about stereotypes.

Seek's avatar

My husband and I work hard all year raising our kid. We save up and buy him gifts. Why should some fucker in the north pole get all the credit?

janbb's avatar

I never had a Santa belief growing up Jewish and didn’t make a big deal out of Santa when my kids were growing up and we celebrated Christmas. We did leave out one present “from Santa” for each kid on the hearth so they had something to open before we all got up and opened presents. It was quite a challenge to do that when they were older teenagers and stayed up later than us and even in his 20s my younger son would go down in the middle of the night for his Santa present! But I didn’t reinforce their belief in other ways and it quite harmlessly fell away (I think.)

I think we enjoy our children’s holidays and beliefs and it adds to the magic of Christmas for them but I rarely lied about anything (including where babies come from) to my children.

olivier5's avatar

My little sister took it very badly once she learnt (at preschool) that Father Xmas did not exist. That evening she pointed an accusatory finger at our parents and yelled: “You lied to me!” Major breach of trust. Years later she still dutifuly told the myth to her own son though…

So is it just because it’s cute? It takes significant efforts though: you have to keep a number of things secret, and the kids aren’t stupid. They usually can see there’s no way a man can fit through that chimney and all that. It seems too much effort for something that’s just cute.

olivier5's avatar

We never lied about where babies come from either, just didn’t enter in too much details. We’d say: “When a man and a woman love each other very much… a baby gets started in the belly of the woman”.

BellaB's avatar

Why does anyone read/write fiction instead of non-fiction? It’s the same kind of question for me. It’s a story, based in truth, made more interesting, and eventually taken to a kind of crazy place.

olivier5's avatar

^^ Everybody knows when they read a novel that it is fiction. It’s usually written on the cover or first page: “a novel”—there’s no deception involved.

BellaB's avatar

You buy very different books than I do. I don’t think I can see one from where I’m sitting that says it is a novel – even though at least half are novels.

BellaB's avatar

In any case, you didn’t answer my question.

ragingloli's avatar

It is sadism, pure and simple.
Children are stupid and gullible, and since every human is a bit of a sadist deep down, they derive joy from deceiving children and seeing them wallow in ignorance.

Berserker's avatar

Quickly recalling, Saint-Nicholas was some dude who would go to people’s houses and beat the fuck out of little kids who had been bad. And he wore a green suit, not red. I think red Santa comes from Coke or something. I guess by now it’s just a tradition.

It’s interesting to note that in Norse mythology, Odin would disguise himself as an old man and visit folks at their home and give them treats on Yule. Not quite Christmas but the celebration of winter solstice is old as fuck, so Santa Claus was a Viking before he was some secret crap soda endorsement thing.

olivier5's avatar

@BellaB Books in English don’t mention their “genre” (essay, novel, biography etc.) on the first page? Never realized that…

Anyway, your question may deserve it’s own thread because it has nothing to do with the question asked by this thread. The present thread is about a form of gentle deception of all or nearly all kids by their parents and pretty much everybody else. And it follows some peculiar rules. For instance, it’s not considered “okay” for an adult to tell a child other than his own that Santa is fiction. That’s being a killjoy, it’s only ok for the kid’s own parents (or other kids) to do so. Whereby you’re welcome to tell ANY kid that, say, the little mermaid is fiction.

olivier5's avatar

@Berserker St Nicolas is a good guy giving good kids treats and gifts. You’re confusing him with the “Père Fouettard”, who whips bad kids (or gives them a piece of charcoal instead of gifts).

Berserker's avatar

Right, I knew it was some such thing, details are quite vague in my mind. must be all those whippings I got.

olivier5's avatar

St Nicholas is the ancestor of Santa Claus so to speak. In German, Klauss = Nicholas.

Seek's avatar

Most novels say “a novel” right on the cover. If not, it’s on the catalog page.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sigh. Much todo about nothing.

We had a tradition in our house where the kids would hide all the Easter eggs on Easter Eve. The Easter Bunny would come in the night and find them all.
One Easter eve, when my kids were about 8 and 6, they started to hide the eggs…but kicked me out of the living room so I couldn’t watch!! OMG!! These were REAL EGGS people! I found all but one that night. As the days turned into weeks, I could not, could NOT find that damn egg!
Then one night, in the middle of the night, about a month later, out of a deep sleep, I bolted up right, wide awake, and whispered “IN THE PLANT!!!”
I had (and still have) lots of large tree plants and sure as hell, they’d buried that one egg in the dirt of my 7 foot ficus tree!
Something had to have tipped me off in my subconscious. As it turned out, they’d checked several times a day to see if the “Easter Bunny” had found that egg, and were tickled as hell when he almost never did! I must have noticed the disturbed dirt at some point during my travels through the house…..

Just last year I asked my 30 year old daughter (who was the 8 year old at the time) why they kicked me out of the living room that year. Did they know I was the Easter Bunny?
She said, “Well, we weren’t sure that you were actually the Easter Bunny, but we suspected you were in cahoots with him somehow.” I just laughed and laughed!

Did they ever feel like I’d lied to them? Of course not.

JLeslie's avatar

If I celebrated Christmas I like it the Latin American way to have a late dinner one Christmas Eve and open gifts afterwards from the family members who are present, and then a gift or two from Santa as a surprise for the kids Christmas Day morning. Actually, I like the more Jewish way of just giving gifts to the children present, because I think gift giving to adults gets out of hand and unnecessarily stressful, but I know a lot of people feel Christmas is anticlimactic without the gift exchange.

@Seek Do some families do all gifts for Christmas from Santa? I thought people put gifts under the tree during the Christmas season, so obviously those would not be from Santa. I’m with you that there’s nothing wrong with parents getting some credit for the gifts they give to their children.

ucme's avatar

“Calm down…grumpy?”
Me, the fourth Earl of Dewksbury?
Are you mad?

MrGrimm888's avatar

I remember when I found out there was no Santa. I cried. It was important to me. Slowly as the days, weeks, and years rolled by, I lost faith in everything. And not since I believed in Santa has the world been “majical.”

I wasn’t mad at my parents. But it’s certainly a deception.

In the end I felt it was valuable. I learned not to trust what people tell me….

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I’m sorry that you felt your parents “deceived” you @MrGrimm888. In my mind that’s just ridiculous. When I approached my parents about it they said “No. Santa is not real. But now you know and you can help us make the magic for the little kids!” (I was the oldest.) I certainly didn’t feel “deceived.” It certainly didn’t teach me not to trust other things they told me. Maybe I was mature for my age.
Or, maybe your parents actually deceived you in other ways as you were growing up. I just don’t see how that one, little event could have such a profound impact.

Sneki95's avatar

@MrGrimm888 You’re kidding, right?

kritiper's avatar

Religious people teach their children that there is a “God” so what difference does it make, really???

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right? But you see, God is real. And he has magical powers. For reals.

Sneki95's avatar

The shitstorm is coming in 3….2…..1….

olivier5's avatar

@ucme Keep your upper lip stiff, your highness.

What the heck did I do with my guillotine now?

olivier5's avatar

@kritiper Religious people teach their children that there is a “God” so what difference does it make, really???

Indeed, there is much similarities between God and Santa. The origins of Santa are religious (St Nicholas), the rewards to the good guys looks similar.

Could it be just a way to drill some good behavior into kids, like religion is a way to drill some morality into people?

Seek's avatar

When I was little, Christmas happened at my mother’s parents’ house.

no gifts were under the tree Christmas eve. Nanny (grandma) gave us our yearly gift – a collectible doll and pajamas. then we went to bed.

If we woke up and came into the living room, Santa would know and all our gifts would turn to coal.

Music played, there were snowy footprints, we put out carrots for the reindeer. my grandfather would dress like Santa and walk past the windows.

All gifts under the tree were from Santa.

Very, very elaborate deception.

olivier5's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Sorry to read that. Thinking, a lot seems to depend on the way we learn it’s not true. In my case, my dad took me aside and told me. He also told me to not tell my younger sister. I suppose he did the same to my older bro a year before. In any case i felt stunned but then also honored that he had trust me with the secret. I became a gardian of the secret, an enforcer of the myth… That’s valorizing. Whereas my sister was told at school by other kids who mocked her for believing in it, and she tried to defend the myth for as long as she could, arguing “my parents don’t lie”... Once she gave up, she felt humiliated. She really resented our parents for it.

I guess it’s best to tell them kids soon enough, before they learn by themselves…

How did you learnt it? In what circumstances?

BellaB's avatar

December 6th is St. Nicholas Day. It was the day I feared the most every year. What if I got a piece of coal or a switch in my shoe instead of a treat?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Nicholas_Day

Seek's avatar

Looking back, my favourite parts of Christmas celebrations were the non-Santa parts.

—Pop-pop (my mother’s stepfather) would dress as Santa (he was built for it), and hitch a long, open trailer to a riding lawn mower wrapped in fairy lights and tinsel, and all the kids in the whole neighborhood would pile in and we’d ride all around town singing Christmas carols and throwing hay at each other.

—Nanny would bake for days. I loved helping in the kitchen. Separating endless eggs. Rolling warm krumkake from the stovetop iron with that ancient wooden cone. Dipping spritzgeback into chocolate. The smell of that fruitcake (soaked with probably far too much rum) baking away.

—Driving around to look at Christmas lights. The blue ones are still my favourite. And I miss the rainbow ones with the big glass bulbs. They were falling out of favor as I was growing up.

—The smell of pine everywhere. Nanny’s massive collection of Nutcracker soldiers, especially the heavy metal one next to the bowl of nuts (I liked the hazelnuts best!). A Christmas Carol on television and Alvin and the Chipmunks on the record player.

—The big Christmas Eve dinner, where everyone in the damn world it seemed had a place at Nanny and Pop’s table, and there was a big meal with weird foods I’d never tried before – caviar and whole lobsters and strange smelling cheeses – and if Daddy wasn’t looking Nanny would give me a teensy sip of champagne or eggnog, because it’s just once a year.

Compared to all that, who needs Santa?

Dutchess_III's avatar

So glad you have at least one good memory, @Seek. (((hugs)))

JLeslie's avatar

Meanwhile, along with this whole Santa and Christmas thing a friend of mine was lementing about being in Florida for Christmas, missing the snow that most of the US portrays in their Christmas movies. Santa in his warm suit, which makes sense since Santa is from Germany, uh, the North Pole.

I half jokingly reminded the FBI thread that it was about the same temp in Bethlehem as it was in FL. She happens to be a believing Christian. People forget the real person being honored for Christmas was not born in a place that is very cold and snowy.

@BellaB It’s the day of the Epiphany for Catholics or Three Kings Day. My husband grew up with even more presents on the 6th.

It’s the end of Yule also, or the 12th day of Christmas.

My Russian friend celebrated on the 7th I think. They did gifts for New Years.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And he probably wasn’t born on December 25th!

JLeslie's avatar

I think it’s pretty much proven he could not have been born in the 25th of December.

ucme's avatar

@olivier5 You think you can dissect me with that blunt little tool? Tsk…tsk.
Summon Krampus to bring a pox on your xmas.

olivier5's avatar

^^ I had to look up “Krampus”, a sort of devilish equivalent to the Père Fouettard. Pretty incredible how rich this St Nicholas / Santa Claus folklore is.

In Italy, it’s traditionally the Befana—a sort of nice witch—who visits all the children on the eve of the Epiphany (the night from 5th to 6th January) to fill their shoes with candy and presents if they have been good kids during the past year, or a lump of coal if they have been bad. So she combines Krampus and Santa.

cazzie's avatar

Here in Norway, we have ‘Nisse’ which are in family groups and live in barns and help look after the animals, if you’re good to them. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomte

MrGrimm888's avatar

@olivier5 . I was 7 or 9 years old. It was a few days before Christmas. I had been thinking about the logistics of Santa delivering gifts to everyone in one night.
I confronted my parents, and said I would stay up all night to ensure it wasn’t them sneeking around, putting out my Xmas morning gifts.

They looked at each other, and then just came clean. I was SO confident that I was right, but the reality washed over me in a dark way. I started questioning everything I was ever told. Still do.

To clarify, I felt deceived because I was… Again, I wasn’t mad, just depressed about the whole thing.

At this point, having seen the way other parents and relatives do the same Santa lie, I have reached a conclusion. The adults do it for themselves as much as the kids.

I think most enjoy the nostalgia of when they believed, and enjoy making their children happy. Yes, there is a behavioral aspect to it as well. Bad kids get coal, or switches. Good kids get presents. Santa is like a beginner god. An omnipresent being who is always watching, and judging you by your actions. I was in Sunday school and church since an early age, but Christianity , I suppose, is harder to teach to a young child. So, they help ease you in with Christmas.

For those who think some are too cynical in this thread, bite me…

This is a very depressing time of year for many. And those who are feeling down don’t need hopelessly optimistic people kicking them while their down.

Personally, I know several people who died in late December. VERY important people to me.
In addition, I’m still fighting with FEMA, to hopefully get some of my belongings replaced from Hurricane Mathew. I lost most of my stuff,and lost lots of money from lost wages while repairs were done in places I work. I HAD a good second job remodeling a mansion. That mansion was in Edisto, and was completely destroyed. So, I’ve suffered greatly financially over the past couple months. I’ll be lucky to make rent in January after barely making it in December. Let alone be able to buy any gifts for my loved ones. I can’t speak for others, but it’s heart breaking to receive gifts, and not be able to give.

So think of me what you will. But my “cynicism” is not simply the product of a pessimistic mind.

Have your “holly jolly Christmas ” all you want to. Just don’t expect everyone else to follow suit. It’s optimistic sheep that make this time of year even more shitty.

Let us not forget we just elected a lunatic to be president, and he’s trying to turn the US into some blend of Nazi Germany and 1950’s America.
In several months, I may not be able to afford my medication either. That’ll be more reason to celebrate.

Merry Fucking Christmas indeed. Pfft….

olivier5's avatar

You are not cynical in my book, @MrGrimm888. You’re just sad, and for good reasons. Anyone who thinks people should be merry on command that time of year, anyone who puts down people who are sad or depressed at Xmas time, is the epitome of a cynic.

Christmas was never meant to be just an orgy of consumption for those who can afford it. It’s supposed to be about helping each other go through what is literally the darkest and coldest time of year (at least in the northern hemisphere).

And yes, this particular year has given us very little to cheer about. The world that we all knew, that old familiar post-WW2 world order in which we grew up, based on the defeat of the nazis, balance of powers, and some amount of collective security, that world is unravelling as we speak. We’ve fucked up its climate beyond repair. The nazis are back and the UN is dying. The European Union, built to avoid another world war, means nothing to anyone anymore. People have forgotten, in spite of all the “never again”.

There isn’t much magic left in this world, you’re damn right about that.

I don’t know what I can do for you, man. I can’t hug you. I could help you pay your rent if you’d tell me how.

I don’t even know what I can do for my own kids, given the shitty world they are inheriting. I’ll just give my boy a new video game, and some money to my girl who can’t find a job…

Anyway, this time around it’s my wife’s family who’s coming over, and none of them believe in Santa anymore, or yet (there’s a 18 month old coming all the way from Denmark). I’ll get them some token gifts and focus on the cooking.

olivier5's avatar

@JLeslie I think it’s pretty much proven he could not have been born in the 25th of December.

I’d say there one chance in 365.

JLeslie's avatar

^^@olivier5 No, actually documents about where the north star was and what would likely create such a bright star in the sky, and the weather and other pieces of information make December extremely unlikely.

You can take it one step farther and wonder what’s the likelihood it would line up so conveniently with the first day of Yule.

I found this link with some information. I didn’t read it all the way through. If you’re very interested a lot of stuff popped up when I googled.

olivier5's avatar

^^ That’s assuming we can place some amount of trust in nativity accounts. However, there’s good reason to believe those accounts are entirely fictional. Most scolars consider as the oldest Gospel the one according to Mark, and it starts with the begining of Jesus’ predication.

ragingloli's avatar

The truth is, it was my spaceship.

JLeslie's avatar

@olivier5 It’s all a guesstimate. I think the point is anyone who feels sure they know the exact day and year Jesus was born is fooling themselves. I’m not question Christianity or a belief in God, I’m only questioning the date.

Does it say in the Bible some sort of exact reference to the date? I have no idea, I’m seriously asking.

Berserker's avatar

@JLeslie Well it should, as the calculating of days was something people did long before the Bible or the year 0, even if it wasn’t the Christian calendar.

JLeslie's avatar

I have no idea if it does. I’ve never studied the Bible. If it ever was explained to me I don’t remember. I also think if our years used to be called BC and AD, that New Years should be Christ’s birthday. I think I asked that question once, and I don’t remember the answers.

olivier5's avatar

There’s no exact reference to the day of the year or even the season. The only clue provided (by both Luke and Matthew) is that he was born under local king Herod the Great, who died in year 4 BC. Hence, based on the two canonical infancies of Jesus, it would seem that JC was born “before JC” by at least 4 years. He got ahead of himself… :-)

IOW, the original calculation of year 0 was wrong by at least 4 years.

The two other Gospels (Mark and John) have no infancy account. The two Gospels having an infancy account (Luke and Matthew) disagree about pretty much everything apart from the name of the parents, the virginity of Mary, and it happening under Herod the Great in a place called Bethlehem. Wiki:

Matthew has no census, annunciation to the shepherds or presentation in the Temple, implies that Jesus’s parents’ home is Bethlehem, has him born in a house there, and has an unnamed angel appear to Joseph to announce the birth. In Luke there are no Magi, no flight into Egypt, or Massacre of the Innocents, Joseph is a resident of Nazareth, the birth appears to take place in an inn instead of the family home, and the angel (named as Gabriel) announces the coming birth to Mary.

BellaB's avatar

Did anyone put their boots/shoes out for St. Nicholas last night? Did anyone put anything in someone else’s boots/shoes this morning?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, interesting. I was about 9 when I went to my parents room and sat on the bed and said, “There is no such thing as Santa Clause, is there.”
They looked at me sadly and said, “No. Of course not.”
I just nodded and walked out.

How odd that one 9 year old came to the logical conclusion that Santa has to be a fairy tale, and when it is confirmed, is OK with it. That 9 year old also understood the reason behind the “game.”

But the other 9 year old is just devastated and learns not to trust anything anyone tells them.
I’d hazard a guess that the 2nd nine year old was deceived in many, many more ways, and over many more years, than one, harmless fairy tale.

@BellaB Today Dec 6th. Why would we put boots out? Why would we even put boots out on December 24th?

olivier5's avatar

^^ You mean St. Nicholas is still celebrated where you live (Toronto, right?)

BellaB's avatar

In the German, Dutch, Scandinavian communities. It’s apparently an up-and-comer for North American Catholics as the focus is on a saint rather than Santa Claus.

My parents and their friends brought the tradition with them when they came to North America. It was rare back then, now it’s more commonly known. Probably more so in Canada than the US as we go for the cultural mosaic vs melting pot approach to immigration.

olivier5's avatar

Interesting. I thought Santa had buldozed older traditions forever in north america. The pendulum keeps swinging i guess.

BellaB's avatar

@olivier5 – the link below is to one of my favourite Christmas traditions

about 20 minutes – make a coffee/brandy and relax into it :)

http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/podcasts/vinylcafe_20161202_52169.mp3

olivier5's avatar

@Dutch That 9 year old also understood the reason behind the “game.”

So what is the reason then, according to that 9 yr old? (it’s the thread’s question, actually)

MrGrimm888's avatar

The same 9 year old couldn’t accept reality when she was 13, and seen as a woman.Does she choose which reality to be offended by?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Magic, @olivier5. Kids are chalk full of magic, and it’s wonderful. I encourage it whenever I can. Time enough for jaded adult downers.

@MrGrimm888 “The same 9 year old couldn’t accept reality when she was 13, and seen as a woman.” What does that even mean?

ragingloli's avatar

*chock full

olivier5's avatar

^^ Thanks. I was wondering what Dutch meant.

Chock–full: full to the limit.

So Dutchess likes little children who believe in magic, but not children (like Grimm) who feel depressed because they can’t believe in magic anymore… and not adults who still believe in magic either. It’s complicated.

I still think the best explanation is that of encouraging good behavior via an invented all-seeing entity. Santa is a mini-god for mini-men.

Mostly it’s for the best therefore, but once in a while a kid gets durably pissed at the deception he or she endured.

To me the lesson is: don’t overdo it. Tell your kids soon enough that it’s fake, at 5 or 6 yr old, before they discover by themselves that you lied to them for years. The dose makes the poison.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I would think, especially after reading other’s thoughts, that it varies per child. There are many different ways people found out, and reacted.

There is no guaranteed “right time” to break the news.

@Dutchess_III , you have mentioned in other threads that when you were 13, you were all of a sudden viewed sexually. You opined that this unwanted attention led to the demise of your childhood,forever changing your world. When I found out there was no Santa, it had a similar effect on me.

I lived in Europe for a few years when I was very young. Where I lived Christmas was a huge thing. Same with here in America. It was a magical time. I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything. But the no Santa thing took the wind from Christmas’ sails. And slowly, all magic was removed from my life,starting in that moment of realization…

I guess I was saying that if you have the right to feel the way you did in your moment, I have the right to feel the way I did in mine.

olivier5's avatar

^^ It’s just that the longer a kid believes in it, and the more elaborate and heavy-handed the deception (thinking of @Seek‘s words here), the higher the chances the kid will be hurt when learning the truth, eg if some other kid spills the beans mockingly, or if it became a big deal for the kid. Older kids also think more over such stuff, while little kids will just forget or move on.

So my conclusion is to not overdo it. A light-handed, short-timed deception is no big deal—the “magic” of the tale and the moral, educational value of the incentive during the “terrible two’s” (some kids are tough to raise around year 2) are worth a little harmless lie. But the parents who make it into a long and elaborate lie, those who overdo it, do so at the risk of losing their kids’ trust.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I remember how real the magic was when I was little. It was real. And my parents weren’t assholes about it. I remember, when I was about 3, Bugs Bunny threw a black circle on the ground and jumped in it to get away from the hunter.
I ran to Mom and asked if she could make me a big black circle, and told her why I wanted it.
She just said, “OK,” and made the circle for me.
She didn’t tell me I was an idiot for thinking I could do the same.

They let me find out for myself, slowly, that magic wasn’t real, they’re only illusions, but illusions are fun too.
I was able to outgrow it all by myself, when I was ready.

Sorry you weren’t allowed to do the same @mrGrimm. Don’t know how your folks handled it, but obviously they didn’t handle it very well, from beginning to end, for you to have wound up with such mistrust over Santa Clause for crying out loud!

I also don’t know how comparing an outgrowing a childish, irrational belief in magic is comparable to having men my father’s age suddenly trying to grab me, and say things and do things to me that scared me and that I didn’t understand.

What’s the comparison again?

MrGrimm888's avatar

^The comparison was meant as a similar loss of innocence….

I don’t think my parents handled it wrong. It’s just my personality…

@olivier5 has a point. The longer ,and more elaborate the deception, the more it could back fire…

Dutchess_III's avatar

I agree that “the longer ,and more elaborate the deception, the more it could back fire.” My parents never made it elaborate.
You knew the presents were from Santa because Santa didn’t wrap presents.
He DID get cookies, which Mom would make, we would help decorate and which were all gone the next morning, except for crumbs.
As an adult I see it was a win win for Santa. ;)

I am just having a hard time seeing the two as similar. One is a loss of magic and fantasy, which is sad. Sure it’s sad. I was sad when I had to give it up, just like I was sad when, about 10 years ago, I let my faith in an invisible, magic man go because it made no more sense than Santa, or Bugs Bunny and his magic black hole.

The other was a wake up call that I could easily find myself in danger if I wasn’t very careful. I still have a hard time grasping how men think, how some can justify drooling over a 13 or 14 year old, young enough to be their daughter or grand daughter.

I just don’t see the two as comparable.

But we can agree to disagree here.

MrGrimm888's avatar

K. It’s not an airtight analogy. I was attempting to put it in perspective….

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m sorry, that the perspective was lost on me. The loss of childhood innocence, childhood belief in magic is one thing.
The slam of head on, grown up situations that, that as a child I wasn’t prepared for seem to be two different things. That was also a childhood belief, that all men were good and were there to protect me.

olivier5's avatar

@MrGrimm888‘s analogy was perfectly appropriate to show that not two kids are alike.

To me, the discovery of sex (around 11) RE-ENCHANTED the world big time. It made life more interesting, not more sordid or dangerous. So evidently, it will depend on the child. Same with Santa. Not two children react the same way to stuff.

So it’s not all about what the parents do, it’s also about how the kids react, in their own personal way, to their own personal childhood.

In our case, my sister took the discovery that Santa does not exist very badly while my brother and I didn’t mind one bit… and yet we had the same parents.

But still, parents and more generally adults and educators can have an influence. They can brake certain news tactfully or brutally, too soon or too late, etc.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Seek It depends not only on the child, it depends on the circumstances in which they are “introduced,” or, in the case of Santa, how they were told.
As for sex, when I was ready to start experimenting, at about 14, and with boys my own age who were just as clueless and we were all exploring, that was fun and it wasn’t a problem.
Having my father’s friend give me a ride home from babysitting their kids, only to stop the car in a dark spot and grab me was a problem.
Having a guy at a gas station / bar stagger up to me and ask if he could buy me a beer, when I was 12, was a problem.
Having a guy stop and offer to help me change my tire when I was 16, and then get angry and start cussing at me, when I turned down a “date” to “get a drink,” you know, to thank him (when I told him I didn’t need or want his help) and we’re alone, on a road that wasn’t well traveled, that was a problem. Yes, and sordid and dangerous.

Seek's avatar

((Pretty sure that wasn’t aimed at me…))

I learned Santa wasn’t real by walking in on my mom and my Nan wrapping presents in the rumpus room. They’d forgotten to lock the door. I didn’t say anything, just saw them wrapping stuff on the pool table, closed the door, and walked away. Then, when Christmas morning came and I saw things marked “From Santa” in the same wrapping paper I’d seen, I knew for certain.

It was just before my ninth birthday… so I probably should have known way before then, but like I said, Santa was a really big deal with my Nan and Pop.

I didn’t say anything to my brother and sister and ruin it for them. And I didn’t hold it against Nan and Pop at all. It is a grandparent’s job to make life fun and magical for their grandkids – no one knows that better than you, Dutch.

Bear in mind, this was also the first Christmas I’d spent without my Daddy. So… there was a lot of other bitterness involved, too.

olivier5's avatar

I’d say 9 yr old is too late.

I told my daughter when she was 8. That was already too late for my taste, based on my reluctance to lie to kids once they can reason by themselves. I don’t mind saying a white lie to a 3 yr old who can’t understand the world yet anyway. But a child who can reason (by 6 or 7) should be trusted with the truth in my book. My wife wanted to “keep the magic” and was finding it “so cute” so I bid my time for a year or two. Then one day my daughter asked me a question about it and I just spilled the beans quietly and she nodded quietly like it all made perfect sense now, and that was it. The mother was a bit pissed.

More or less the same with my son later. He said he already half-knew it (I only half-believed him).

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Seek I’m not sure what you were referring to when you said, ((Pretty sure that wasn’t aimed at me…))”

There was nothing “aimed” at anyone. My point to you was, yes. I agree. Two different kids can have virtually the same experience, and it will affect them each differently.
For example, you learned about Santa ” by walking in on my mom and my Nan wrapping presents in the rumpus room.” You internalized it the way you did, and it wasn’t traumatic.
For another kid, in the exact same circumstance, it could have been traumatic.

BUT you can’t disregard the actual circumstances involving how a kid learns. You learned about sex at 11, and for you it was exciting.
My introduction to men (not sex, but male drives) was at 12, being approached by a drunk in a bar asking to buy me a drink. It was not exciting. It was confusing and scary.
(For those who just want to explode about my folks letting me in a “bar” at 12, this was 1970. We were on a road trip, dad stopped at a gas station to get gas. I went inside to get an orange pop from the pop machine. Well, the gas station also sold beer and had tables. You wouldn’t see that today, but that’s how it was in the 60’s and 70’s.) Anyway, during the few seconds I was out of my folks sight, a drunk hit on me, wanting to buy me a beer.

Seek, I don’t think you would find that situation “exciting,” would you?

My point is, you can’t disregard the circumstances either.

Perhaps there were circumstances that were traumatizing to you, that another kid wouldn’t find traumatizing?

Seek's avatar

I think you’ve misdirected the conversation. You were discussing the you and dudes thing with @MrGrimm888, and I think you accidentally tagged me in the last post.

I was devastated by the loss of Santa… but I was already vulnerable due to other circumstances.

I knew about the “mechanics” of sex from a very young age, because I’ve always been a voracious reader. It wasn’t exciting, per se… any more than learning the names of all the bones in the feet was. The first time I was “exposed” to unwanted male attention (that I recognized as the same) was when I was around 12 or 13, too. Dudes honking and shouting from their car while my friend and I walked from her house to the store. Crude comments from the other kids at school about how undesirable I was (being much younger than them and less developed – I was a late bloomer and started high school at 13). Stuff like that.

People react to many things differently from others. Everyone does. No one is arguing that point.

Some kids naturally grow out of the Santa thing with no regrets. I grew out of it suddenly, knowing full well I’d never tell that lie to my own kids. I’m not raising my son with any expectation that the things I say to him are just as likely to be a fun or comfortable lie as the truth. That’s just the way I’m doing things. Not believing in Santa is no great loss to him.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh hell. You are so right, @Seek. I’ve been running Fluther on the run since I’ve been working, not paying close attention.
The comment about “discovering sex at 11” and sex being so “enchanting” was made by @olivier5, here. I manged to misread who wrote it.
I thought that was a rather odd comment for an 11 year old girl!

My apologies for my confusion @Seek!!!!!!!

I knew about the “mechanics” of sex from about 6 because I had reason to ask my Mom and she told me, straight up. At 6 I thought it was was ridiculous and didn’t think about it again until I was about 12.

And I’m so sorry that learning about Santa was so devastating for you. But, like you said, they invested a lot in the illusion….just like they did in their religion. My parents didn’t invest much at all in either of the illusions so it wasn’t traumatic for me. Just sad.

Maybe I’ll be fired soon so I can PAY ATTENTION! But I love this job…and I have a question about my Amazon order, @Seek….

olivier5's avatar

Okay so we all agree that two kids may react differently to the same discovery, and that there’s nothing inherently wrong or abnormal about being devastated by the discovery that Santa is not true. That’s progress…

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

What do you mean Santa isn’t real…?

olivier5's avatar

Ooops… :-)

MrGrimm888's avatar

@olivier5 . Yes. I think that’s the concensus here.

olivier5's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Those rare moments of agreement are to be savored. It must be the “Christmas spirit”. :-)

JLeslie's avatar

Hmmm. I was 8 when I found out the tooth fairy wasn’t real. I can’t remember if a friend told me, or if I figured it out. I just remember asking my mom and she told me the truth since I asked a direct question. She asked me to not tell my little sister yet. I remember being a little shocked, but when she told me it’s been her all along I was ok. I remembered the one time the $1 was on the floor, and my mom found it when I couldn’t find it under my pillow, and she had said, “maybe the tooth fairy was tired and couldn’t lift your head easily to get it under the pillow.” Lol. You gotta know my mom.

Santa was for the other kids. We didn’t celebrate Santa. He was mostly a story in TV for me. I didn’t really understand how it works. What I do know, and other jellies here have heard this before, is when I was a little girl, one year my neighbor-friend’s mom called my mom Xmas day and said Santa left gifts for my sister and I under their tree, because we didn’t have one. We were so excited!!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I understand being devastated, as a little kid, at the time. But for that devastation, over that one event, to carry on into your adult life, so you no longer trust what anybody tells you is a little much.

Seek's avatar

Well, I clearly didn’t learn my lesson at the time… I went in to join the hardcore Jesus brigade shortly afterward. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and we all take lessons from our youthful follies.

olivier5's avatar

@Dutchess_III So to carry a disgust for male sexuality for your entire life after a couple of isolated events is a bit much?

I agree. But kids tend to generalize a bit too much.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^I’ve already apologized for the analogy, and honestly regret bringing it up….

olivier5's avatar

Sorry but I consider it an excellent analogy. Kids grow up differently. There’s no reason to go all judgmental and condescending about other people’s childhood as Dutch did. That was tactless and mean, and it deserves a little push-back IMO.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. It happened… I opened a sore spot. And I’m strategically withdrawing….

olivier5's avatar

That’s your call. I consider the analogy perfectly adequate to show that not two kids are alike. Just like we all reacted differently to the Santa Claus thing, we all reacted differently to the irruption of sexuality in our lives. Plenty of girls grow embracing their capacity to arouse men. They put on make up, wear skirts and show clivage because it’s more power to them. Others don’t embrace it or even find it gross. To each his or her own childhood. There’s no right or wrong way to grow up.

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Dutchess_III's avatar

@olivier5 They weren’t isolated events. They went on and on and on and on, throughout my entire adult life. I quickly learned not to wind up alone with a male I didn’t know well, including men my father’s age, who, prior to 13 I would have trusted completely, but I still found myself in trouble sometimes anyway, even in public.

I don’t carry an overall disgust for male sexuality.
I carry a disgust for old men who prey on young girls, and men who attempt to force a woman to have sex, and men who grab women.
And men who spit in a woman’s face, and calls her a bitch when she declines to dance with him.
And men who throw full cans of beer at a women when she rejects their advances.
And men who grab women’s pussies, or boobs, or pinches their butts.
And men who write creepy, stalky letters.
^^^^ I have experienced all of the above. They were not just disappointments, and an end to imaginary people. They were real-life threats that I quickly learned to minimize when I could.

janbb's avatar

@Dutchess_III You have been very unfortunate in your experiences. Certainly no woman should be exposed to so much assault. I have had a few such and of course more when I was younger but not so many as you. I was sexually abused for years but that was a different story. Different milieus perhaps, I wonder?

But again this is off track from the original good question.

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Dutchess_III's avatar

Actually, I was very fortunate. I was never actually raped, unlike at least two women here on Fluther.

Well, it was probably quite simple. I actually started developing at the age of 8. Mom came to tuck me into bed, and I told her that my chest hurt. She did an “exam,” and told me I was starting to develop. It took another few years, but by the age of 13 I was fully developed, size 36C. I was teased in school, told “You have to stuff. No one that skinny can have boobs that big!” God, it was so frustrating and painful.

I wound up a perfect 36–24-36. And beautiful. Even though it wasn’t anything I actually did, I’m sure that’s all that was needed for me to “invite” such behavior.

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ucme's avatar

It’s beginning to look a lot like xmas…dum dee doo dodoo

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janbb's avatar

Isn’t it time for This Discussion to Be Closed?

MrGrimm888's avatar

I think we’ve said everything we had to say that was relevant.

When people are passionate about things. I suppose friction is inevitable. ...

chyna's avatar

I think this went from passionate to name calling.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^Well . That’s a shame…

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olivier5's avatar

Wow…. Look at that. This site is definitly special.

Anyway. About not lying to kids and not celebrating Santa, i saw Captain Fantastic yesterday night and highly recommend it. It’s pretty radical. Just to give you an idea, the family of the main character (played by Viggo Mortensen) celebrates the birth of Noam Chomsky instead of Christmas…

A clue to the movie is provided by Viggo’s daughter’s analysis of Lolita by Nabokov: you end up hating and loving the main character at the same time.

Power to the people!

janbb's avatar

@olivier5 It was a fascinating movie.

olivier5's avatar

Yes it is. I dreamed about it last night, was in this bus with all my kids (invented, not the real ones) and the baby had fever and i was giving him water to drink and then I woke up… no idea what that means but my wife was not pleased…

MrGrimm888's avatar

Said that the thread ended with nobody mentioning Mr. Hanky the Christmas Poo….

olivier5's avatar

@MrGrimm888 I had to google that, and learnt the first ever South Park episodes were about Christmas Jesus vs Frosty and Jesus vs Santa). Thank you Grimm, this thread DESERVED a South Park reference.

MrGrimm888's avatar

^South Park also created the Giant Dousch vs the Turd Sandwich. In reference to a previous election.

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