Why I Don’t Lie to my Children About Santa Claus

Portrait-of-Father-Christmas-by-Dean-Morissete

I promise I don’t write these articles to offend you.

Several years back when our children got old enough to understand the story of Father Christmas (you may know him as Santa Claus), my wife and I had an argument. She thought (and still thinks) that it’s okay to tell your children that there exists such a person: A plump, white-bearded old man, dressed in fur, flying magical reindeer, delivering presents to good boys and girls throughout the world.

I disagree.

I think it’s one thing to allow your child to believe a myth, it’s another thing entirely, I think, to talk them into believing it.

Lying

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “[a] lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.”

Leaving to one side the issue of mental reservation and the, ‘if-a-Nazi-was-at-your-door’ dilemmas*, it seems obvious to me that telling a child—who does not yet have the cognitive ability to discern the truth of the matter, and who trusts you to tell him the truth about the world, (and at the very least, not to deceive him about it)—that Santa exists; that he ‘knows if you’ve been bad or good,’ that he can be tracked on ReindeerCam, etc. etc. is a lie: a falsehood told with the intent of deceiving.

For this reason we don’t lie to our children about Santa Claus.

When people discover this they usually object in one of three ways:

1. “My parents told me about Santa Claus and I turned out okay. Once I found out the truth, I never doubted that God existed or anything like that.”

My argument isn’t that lying to children about Santa Claus will have negative effects (or even that it won’t have positive ones), it’s that I think it constitutes lying, that lying is wrong, and that we therefore should’t do it.

2. “Don’t you worry that you’re robbing your children of the magic of Christmas?”

To this I say, if celebrating the historical fact of the birth of the second person of the Blessed Trinity is not enough to arouse wonder, ‘magic,’ or awe, within you and your children, you may wanna reflect upon that.

3. “I think it’s good for their imagination!”

You’re probably right, but I think there are other ways to encourage your child’s imagination that don’t involve lying to them? Like reading them good literature? The Chronicles of Narnia, for instance, or, The Lord the Rings. These books, to paraphrase Fr. Robert Barron, prepare the imagination for the reception of the gospel.

Will the real St. Nick stand up?

St-Nicholas

Perhaps you and I should learn more about the real St. Nicholas, and even find ways to creatively celebrate his feast with our children (his feast is on the 6th of December); they’ve got some great ideas at the St. Nicholas Center.

Did you know that St. Nicholas was a fourth century Bishop of Myra (part of modern-day Turkey)? And that he participated in the First Council of Nicaea—where he apparently punched the heretic Arius for denying Christ’s divinity? Bring it Nicko!

Disagree?

If you’d like to read a post that appears to argue the opposite of what I’m arguing here, you can read Catholic apologist Michelle Arnold’s post, The Truth About Santa Claus. You might also enjoy Matt Warner’s recent post (looks like we posted around the same time) Are you lying to your children about Santa.

I’m Open to Changing My Mind

I think most times when people say in the middle of an argument, “hey, I’m open to changing my mind,” that they aren’t really. Rather it’s just something to say to sound objective. But in this situation, I really am open to changing my mind. Leave your comments below and I’ll do my best to read through them all.

 

88 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Lie to my Children About Santa Claus

  1. I responded and received the follow up notification of Rachel’s post but don’t see mine. Is it because I didn’t agree? I thought of another point since I responded yesterday. Isn’t the USCCB supporting the Catholics Come Home initiative and isn’t part of that initiative the recent commercial showing Santa walking through a town and eventually kneeling at the Nativity scene? So then are you standing against the USCCB with your position as well or at least the organizations trying to bring Catholics back to the Church?

    As a parent you have the right to raise your children as you see fit. As do I. I do caution you, with a bit of fraternal correction, the way some of the greatest saints like St. Therese and St. Ignatius Loyola have been cautioned, don’t be too scrupulous as to what is a sin. It can become false piety leading to the more serious sin of pride. “Thank you Lord for all you have given me, and for not making me a sinner like that tax collector.” My daugher will know a Christmas focused on Christ, the reason for the season, but one that includes Santa. I prefer to pray, “Have mercy on me a sinner.” I love the rest of your work but do not agree with some of your points on this matter. God Bless you and your family and have a Merry Christmas.

  2. My husband and i dont have a position on this subject yet, however, the one sentence you quoted from the catechism is very misleading. It is a quote by st. augustine and not the whole of the church’s teaching on lying (First sentence of paragraph 2482). The catechism states in the very next paragraph (2483) that a lie is “to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error.” Therefore, the question arises, what is to lead someone into error?

  3. I have a friend from Czech Republic. St. Nicholas comes on St. Nicholas Day. They tell him what they want for Christmas, and the Christ Child brings their Christmas presents. Since all good things come from Jesus Christ, it’s not lying. They find the Christ Child Gift waiting when they come back from Mass on Christmas Eve. They resolve the issue of other children talking about Santa Claus by saying, “Good Catholic children get their Christmas present from the Christ Child.”

  4. I will defer to my favorite author on this!

    G.K. Chesterton on Santa Claus:
    What has happened to me has been the very reverse of what appears to be the experience of most of my friends. Instead of dwindling to a point, Santa Claus has grown larger and larger in my life until he fills almost the whole of it. It happened in this way.
    As a child I was faced with a phenomenon requiring explanation. I hung up at the end of my bed an empty stocking, which in the morning became a full stocking. I had done nothing to produce the things that filled it. I had not worked for them, or made them or helped to make them. I had not even been good – far from it.
    And the explanation was that a certain being whom people called Santa Claus was benevolently disposed toward me. . . . What we believed was that a certain benevolent agency did give us those toys for nothing. And, as I say, I believe it still. I have merely extended the idea.
    Then I only wondered who put the toys in the stocking; now I wonder who put the stocking by the bed, and the bed in the room, and the room in the house, and the house on the planet, and the great planet in the void.
    Once I only thanked Santa Claus for a few dollars and crackers. Now, I thank him for stars and street faces, and wine and the great sea. Once I thought it delightful and astonishing to find a present so big that it only went halfway into the stocking. Now I am delighted and astonished every morning to find a present so big that it takes two stockings to hold it, and then leaves a great deal outside; it is the large and preposterous present of myself, as to the origin of which I can offer no suggestion except that Santa Claus gave it to me in a fit of peculiarly fantastic goodwill.

    Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slowchurch/2012/12/25/g-k-chesterton-on-santa-claus/#ixzz3KwzLnDDS

  5. I never felt a need to perpetuate the Santa Claus myth. My wife and I allowed the Santa Claus tall tale when they were very young. However, I told them the truth as soon as they asked. Don’t misunderstand though, this was difficult! I remember one of our sons wanted to believe very badly in Santa Claus. His eyes were watery as he pleaded with me to tell him if it was true that mom and dad were Santa. I could not and would not lie to my son and said yes even though it made him a little sad. His happiness in a parent’s generosity outweighs a belief in a myth.

  6. These things I write to you, that you may know that you have eternal life, you who believe in the name of the Son of God. 1 John 5:13 Douay-Rheims Bible

  7. Can you and I make a website about this or write a book? My wife and I have been joking for years…
    SantaIsFake.com or the like. There are so many valid points you can make, from funny to serious. It would be fun with all of our “free” time. Email me.
    God Bless
    Mike

    1. The Two Babylons
      Alexander Hislop

      Chapter IV
      Section III
      The Sacrifice of the Mass
      If baptismal regeneration, the initiating ordinance of Rome, and justification by works, be both Chaldean, the principle embodied in the “unbloody sacrifice” of the mass is not less so. We have evidence that goes to show the Babylonian origin of the idea of that “unbloody sacrifice” very distinctly. From Tacitus we learn that no blood was allowed to be offered on the altars of Paphian Venus. Victims were used for the purposes of the Haruspex, that presages of the issues of events might be drawn from the inspection of the entrails of these victims; but the altars of the Paphian goddess were required to be kept pure from blood. Tacitus shows that the Haruspex of the temple of the Paphian Venus was brought from Cilicia, for his knowledge of her rites, that they might be duly performed according to the supposed will of the goddess, the Cilicians having peculiar knowledge of her rites. Now, Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, was built by Sennacerib, the Assyrian king, in express imitation of Babylon. Its religion would naturally correspond; and when we find “unbloody sacrifice” in Cyprus, whose priest came from Cilicia, that, in the circumstances, is itself a strong presumption that the “unbloody sacrifice” came to it through Cilicia from Babylon. This presumption is greatly strengthened when we find from Herodotus that the peculiar and abominable institution of Babylon in prostituting virgins in honour of Mylitta, was observed also in Cyprus in honour of Venus. But the positive testimony of Pausanias brings this presumption to a certainty. “Near this,” says that historian, speaking of the temple of Vulcan at Athens, “is the temple of Celestial Venus, who was first worshipped by the Assyrians, and after these by the Paphians in Cyprus, and the Phoenicians who inhabited the city of Ascalon in Palestine. But the Cythereans venerated this goddess in consequence of learning her sacred rites from the Phoenicians.” The Assyrian Venus, then–that is, the great goddess of Babylon–and the Cyprian Venus were one and the same, and consequently the “bloodless” altars of the Paphian goddess show the character of the worship peculiar to the Babylonian goddess, from whom she was derived. In this respect the goddess-queen of Chaldea differed from her son, who was worshipped in her arms. He was, as we have seen, represented as delighting in blood. But she, as the mother of grace and mercy, as the celestial “Dove,” as “the hope of the whole world,” (BRYANT) was averse to blood, and was represented in a benign and gentle character. Accordingly, in Babylon she bore the name of Mylitta–that is, “The Mediatrix.” *

      * Mylitta is the same as Melitta, the feminine of Melitz, “a mediator,” which in Chaldee becomes Melitt. Melitz is the word used in Job 33:23, 24: “If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter (Heb. Melitz, “a mediator”), one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.”
      Every one who reads the Bible, and sees how expressly it declares that, as there is only “one God,” so there is only “one Mediator between God and man” (1 Tim 2:5), must marvel how it could ever have entered the mind of any one to bestow on Mary, as is done by the Church of Rome, the character of the “Mediatrix.” But the character ascribed to the Babylonian goddess as Mylitta sufficiently accounts for this. In accordance with this character of Mediatrix, she was called Aphrodite–that is, “the wrath-subduer” *–who by her charms could soothe the breast of angry Jove, and soften the most rugged spirits of gods or mortal-men. In Athens she was called Amarusia (PAUSANIAS)–that is, “The Mother of gracious acceptance.” **

      * From Chaldee “aph,” “wrath,” and “radah,” “to subdue”; “radite” is the feminine emphatic.
      ** From “Ama,” “mother,” and “Retza,” “to accept graciously,” which in the participle active is “Rutza.” Pausanias expresses his perplexity as to the meaning of the name Amarusia as applied to Diana, saying, “Concerning which appellation I never could find any one able to give a satisfactory account.” The sacred tongue plainly shows the meaning of it.

      In Rome she was called “Bona Dea,” “the good goddess,” the mysteries of this goddess being celebrated by women with peculiar secrecy. In India the goddess Lakshmi, “the Mother of the Universe,” the consort of Vishnu, is represented also as possessing the most gracious and genial disposition; and that disposition is indicated in the same way as in the case of the Babylonian goddess. “In the festivals of Lakshmi,” says Coleman, “no sanguinary sacrifices are offered.” In China, the great gods, on whom the final destinies of mankind depend, are held up to the popular mind as objects of dread; but the goddess Kuanyin, “the goddess of mercy,” whom the Chinese of Canton recognise as bearing an analogy to the Virgin or Rome, is described as looking with an eye of compassion on the guilty, and interposing to save miserable souls even from torments to which in the world of spirits they have been doomed. Therefore she is regarded with peculiar favour by the Chinese. This character of the goddess-mother has evidently radiated in all directions from Chaldea. Now, thus we see how it comes that Rome represents Christ, the “Lamb of God,” meek and lowly in heart, who never brake the bruised reed, nor quenched the smoking flax–who spake words of sweetest encouragement to every mourning penitent–who wept over Jerusalem–who prayed for His murderers–as a stern and inexorable judge, before whom the sinner “might grovel in the dust, and still never be sure that his prayers would be heard,” while Mary is set off in the most winning and engaging light, as the hope of the guilty, as the grand refuge of sinners; how it is that the former is said to have “reserved justice and judgment to Himself,” but to have committed the exercise of all mercy to His Mother! The most standard devotional works of Rome are pervaded by this very principle, exalting the compassion and gentleness of the mother at the expense of the loving character of the Son. Thus, St. Alphonsus Liguori tells his readers that the sinner that ventures to come directly to Christ may come with dread and apprehension of His wrath; but let him only employ the mediation of the Virgin with her Son, and she has only to “show” that Son “the breasts that gave him suck,” (Catholic Layman, July, 1856) and His wrath will immediately be appeased. But where in the Word of God could such an idea have been found? Not surely in the answer of the Lord Jesus to the woman who exclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps that thou hast sucked!” Jesus answered and said unto her, “Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it” (Luke 11:27,28). There cannot be a doubt that this answer was given by the prescient Saviour, to check in the very bud every idea akin to that expressed by Liguori. Yet this idea, which is not to be found in Scripture, which the Scripture expressly repudiates, was widely diffused in the realms of Paganism. Thus we find an exactly parallel representation in the Hindoo mythology in regard to the god Siva and his wife Kali, when that god appeared as a little child. “Siva,” says the Lainga Puran, “appeared as an infant in a cemetery, surrounded by ghosts, and on beholding him, Kali (his wife) took him up, and, caressing him, gave him her breast. He sucked the nectareous fluid; but becoming ANGRY, in order to divert and PACIFY him, Kali clasping him to her bosom, danced with her attendant goblins and demons amongst the dead, until he was pleased and delighted; while Vishnu, Brahma, Indra, and all the gods, bowing themselves, praised with laudatory strains the god of gods, Kal and Parvati.” Kali, in India, is the goddess of destruction; but even into the myth that concerns this goddess of destruction, the power of the goddess mother, in appeasing an offended god, by means only suited to PACIFY a peevish child, has found an introduction. If the Hindoo story exhibits its “god of gods” in such a degrading light, how much more honouring is the Papal story to the Son of the Blessed, when it represents Him as needing to be pacified by His mother exposing to Him “the breasts that He has sucked.” All this is done only to exalt the Mother, as more gracious and more compassionate than her glorious Son. Now, this was the very case in Babylon: and to this character of the goddess queen her favourite offerings exactly corresponded. Therefore, we find the women of Judah represented as simply “burning incense, pouring out drink-offerings, and offering cakes to the queen of heaven” (Jer 44:19). The cakes were “the unbloody sacrifice” she required. That “unbloody sacrifice” her votaries not only offered, but when admitted to the higher mysteries, they partook of, swearing anew fidelity to her. In the fourth century, when the queen of heaven, under the name of Mary, was beginning to be worshipped in the Christian Church, this “unbloody sacrifice” also was brought in. Epiphanius states that the practice of offering and eating it began among the women of Arabia; and at that time it was well known to have been adopted from the Pagans. The very shape of the unbloody sacrifice of Rome may indicate whence it came. It is a small thin, round wafer; and on its roundness the Church of Rome lays so much stress, to use the pithy language of John Knox in regard to the wafer-god, “If, in making the roundness the ring be broken, then must another of his fellow-cakes receive that honour to be made a god, and the crazed or cracked miserable cake, that once was in hope to be made a god, must be given to a baby to play withal.” What could have induced the Papacy to insist so much on the “roundness” of its “unbloody sacrifice”? Clearly not any reference to the Divine institution of the Supper of our Lord; for in all the accounts that are given of it, no reference whatever is made to the form of the bread which our Lord took, when He blessed and break it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, “Take, eat; this is My body: this do in remembrance of Me.” As little can it be taken from any regard to injunctions about the form of the Jewish Paschal bread; for no injunctions on that subject are given in the books of Moses. The importance, however, which Rome attaches to the roundness of the wafer, must have a reason; and that reason will be found, if we look at the altars of Egypt. “The thin, round cake,” says Wilkinson, “occurs on all altars.” Almost every jot or tittle in the Egyptian worship had a symbolical meaning. The round disk, so frequent in the sacred emblems of Egypt, symbolised the sun. Now, when Osiris, the sun-divinity, became incarnate, and was born, it was not merely that he should give his life as a sacrifice for men, but that he might also be the life and nourishment of the souls of men. It is universally admitted that Isis was the original of the Greek and Roman Ceres. But Ceres, be it observed, was worshipped not simply as the discoverer of corn; she was worshipped as “the MOTHER of Corn.” The child she brought forth was He-Siri, “the Seed,” or, as he was most frequently called in Assyria, “Bar,” which signifies at once “the Son” and “the Corn.” The uninitiated might reverence Ceres for the gift of material corn to nourish their bodies, but the initiated adored her for a higher gift–for food to nourish their souls–for giving them that bread of God that cometh down from heaven–for the life of the world, of which, “if a man eat, he shall never die.” Does any one imagine that it is a mere New Testament doctrine, that Christ is the “bread of life”? There never was, there never could be, spiritual life in any soul, since the world began, at least since the expulsion from Eden, that was not nourished and supported by a continual feeding by faith on the Son of God, “in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell” (Col 1:19), “that out of His fulness we might receive, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). Paul tells us that the manna of which the Israelites ate in the wilderness was to them a type and lively symbol of “the bread of life”; (1 Cor 10:3), “They did all eat the same spiritual meat”–i.e., meat which was intended not only to support their natural lives, but to point them to Him who was the life of their souls. Now, Clement of Alexandria, to whom we are largely indebted for all the discoveries that, in modern times, have been made in Egypt, expressly assures us that, “in their hidden character, the enigmas of the Egyptians were VERY SIMILAR TO THOSE OF THE JEWS.” That the initiated Pagans actually believed that the “Corn” which Ceres bestowed on the world was not the “Corn” of this earth, but the Divine “Son,” through whom alone spiritual and eternal life could be enjoyed, we have clear and decisive proof. The Druids were devoted worshippers of Ceres, and as such they were celebrated in their mystic poems as “bearers of the ears of corn.” Now, the following is the account which the Druids give of their great divinity, under the form of “Corn.” That divinity was represented as having, in the first instance, incurred, for some reason or other, the displeasure of Ceres, and was fleeing in terror from her. In his terror, “he took the form of a bird, and mounted into the air. That element afforded him no refuge: for The Lady, in the form of a sparrow-hawk, was gaining upon him–she was just in the act of pouncing upon him. Shuddering with dread, he perceived a heap of clean wheat upon a floor, dropped into the midst of it, and assumed the form of a single grain. Ceridwen [i.e., the British Ceres] took the form of a black high-crested hen, descended into the wheat, scratched him out, distinguished, and swallowed him. And, as the history relates, she was pregnant of him nine months, and when delivered of him, she found him so lovely a babe, that she had not resolution to put him to death” (“Song of Taliesin,” DAVIES’S British Druids). Here it is evident that the grain of corn, is expressly identified with “the lovely babe”; from which it is still further evident that Ceres, who, to the profane vulgar was known only as the Mother of “Bar,” “the Corn,” was known to the initiated as the Mother of “Bar,” “the Son.” And now, the reader will be prepared to understand the full significance of the representation in the Celestial sphere of “the Virgin with the ear of wheat in her hand.” That ear of wheat in the Virgin’s hand is just another symbol for the child in the arms of the Virgin Mother.

      Now, this Son, who was symbolised as “Corn,” was the SUN-divinity incarnate, according to the sacred oracle of the great goddess of Egypt: “No mortal hath lifted my veil. The fruit which I have brought forth is the SUN” (BUNSEN’S Egypt). What more natural then, if this incarnate divinity is symbolised as the “bread of God,” than that he should be represented as a “round wafer,” to identify him with the Sun? Is this a mere fancy? Let the reader peruse the following extract from Hurd, in which he describes the embellishments of the Romish altar, on which the sacrament or consecrated wafer is deposited, and then he will be able to judge: “A plate of silver, in the form of a SUN, is fixed opposite to the SACRAMENT on the altar; which, with the light of the tapers, makes a most brilliant appearance.” What has that “brilliant” “Sun” to do there, on the altar, over against the “sacrament,” or round wafer? In Egypt, the disk of the Sun was represented in the temples, and the sovereign and his wife and children were represented as adoring it. Near the small town of Babin, in Upper Egypt, there still exists in a grotto, a representation of a sacrifice to the sun, where two priests are seen worshipping the sun’s image. In the great temple of Babylon, the golden image of the Sun was exhibited for the worship of the Babylonians. In the temple of Cuzco, in Peru, the disk of the sun was fixed up in flaming gold upon the wall, that all who entered might bow down before it. The Paeonians of Thrace were sun-worshippers; and in their worship they adored an image of the sun in the form of a disk at the top of a long pole. In the worship of Baal, as practised by the idolatrous Israelites in the days of their apostacy, the worship of the sun’s image was equally observed; and it is striking to find that the image of the sun, which apostate Israel worshipped, was erected above the altar. When the good king Josiah set about the work of reformation, we read that his servants in carrying out the work, proceeded thus (2 Chron 34:4): “And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence, and the images (margin, SUN-IMAGES) that were on high above them, he cut down.” Benjamin of Tudela, the great Jewish traveller, gives a striking account of sun-worship even in comparatively modern times, as subsisting among the Cushites of the East, from which we find that the image of the sun was, even in his day, worshipped on the altar. “There is a temple,” says he, “of the posterity of Chus, addicted to the contemplation of the stars. They worship the sun as a god, and the whole country, for half-a-mile round their town, is filled with great altars dedicated to him. By the dawn of morn they get up and run out of town, to wait the rising sun, to whom, on every altar, there is a consecrated image, not in the likeness of a man, but of the solar orb, framed by magic art. These orbs, as soon as the sun rises, take fire, and resound with a great noise, while everybody there, men and women, hold censers in their hands, and all burn incense to the sun.” From all this, it is manifest that the image of the sun above, or on the altar, was one of the recognised symbols of those who worshipped Baal or the sun. And here, in a so-called Christian Church, a brilliant plate of silver, “in the form of a SUN,” is so placed on the altar, that every one who adores at that altar must bow down in lowly reverence before that image of the “Sun.” Whence, I ask, could that have come, but from the ancient sun-worship, or the worship of Baal? And when the wafer is so placed that the silver “SUN” is fronting the “round” wafer, whose “roundness” is so important an element in the Romish Mystery, what can be the meaning of it, but just to show to those who have eyes to see, that the “Wafer” itself is only another symbol of Baal, or the Sun. If the sun-divinity was worshipped in Egypt as “the Seed,” or in Babylon as the “Corn,” precisely so is the wafer adored in Rome. “Bread-corn of the elect, have mercy upon us,” is one of the appointed prayers of the Roman Litany, addressed to the wafer, in the celebration of the mass. And one at least of the imperative requirements as to the way in which that wafer is to be partaken of, is the very same as was enforced in the old worship of the Babylonian divinity. Those who partake of it are required to partake absolutely fasting. This is very stringently laid down. Bishop Hay, laying down the law on the subject, says that it is indispensable, “that we be fasting from midnight, so as to have taken nothing into our stomach from twelve o’clock at night before we receive, neither food, nor drink, nor medicine.” Considering that our Lord Jesus Christ instituted the Holy Communion immediately after His disciples had partaken of the paschal feast, such a strict requirement of fasting might seem very unaccountable. But look at this provision in regard to the “unbloody sacrifice” of the mass in the light of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and it is accounted for at once; for there the first question put to those who sought initiation was, “Are you fasting?” (POTTER, Eleusiania) and unless that question was answered in the affirmative, no initiation could take place. There is no question that fasting is in certain circumstances a Christian duty; but while neither the letter nor the spirit of the Divine institution requires any such stringent regulation as the above, the regulations in regard to the Babylonian Mysteries make it evident whence this requirement has really come.

      Although the god whom Isis or Ceres brought forth, and who was offered to her under the symbol of the wafer or thin round cake, as “the bread of life,” was in reality the fierce, scorching Sun, or terrible Moloch, yet in that offering all his terror was veiled, and everything repulsive was cast into the shade. In the appointed symbol he is offered up to the benignant Mother, who tempers judgment with mercy, and to whom all spiritual blessings are ultimately referred; and blessed by that mother, he is given back to be feasted upon, as the staff of life, as the nourishment of her worshippers’ souls. Thus the Mother was held up as the favourite divinity. And thus, also, and for an entirely similar reason, does the Madonna of Rome entirely eclipse her son as the “Mother of grace and mercy.”

      In regard to the Pagan character of the “unbloody sacrifice” of the mass, we have seen not little already. But there is something yet to be considered, in which the working of the mystery of iniquity will still further appear. There are letters on the wafer that are worth reading. These letters are I. H. S. What mean these mystical letters? To a Christian these letters are represented as signifying, “Iesus Hominum Salvator,” “Jesus the Saviour of men.” But let a Roman worshipper of Isis (for in the age of the emperors there were innumerable worshippers of Isis in Rome) cast his eyes upon them, and how will he read them? He will read them, of course, according to his own well known system of idolatry: “Isis, Horus, Seb,” that is, “The Mother, the Child, and the Father of the gods,”–in other words, “The Egyptian Trinity.” Can the reader imagine that this double sense is accidental? Surely not. The very same spirit that converted the festival of the Pagan Oannes into the feast of the Christian Joannes, retaining at the same time all its ancient Paganism, has skilfully planned the initials I. H. S. to pay the semblance of a tribute to Christianity, while Paganism in reality has all the substance of the homage bestowed upon it.

      When the women of Arabia began to adopt this wafer and offer the “unbloody sacrifice,” all genuine Christians saw at once the real character of their sacrifice. They were treated as heretics, and branded with the name of Collyridians, from the Greek name for the cake which they employed. But Rome saw that the heresy might be turned to account; and therefore, though condemned by the sound portion of the Church, the practice of offering and eating this “unbloody sacrifice” was patronised by the Papacy; and now, throughout the whole bounds of the Romish communion, it has superseded the simple but most precious sacrament of the Supper instituted by our Lord Himself.

      Intimately connected with the sacrifice of the mass is the subject of transubstantiation; but the consideration of it will come more conveniently at a subsequent stage of this inquiry.

  8. A Catholic friend of mine referred me to this post, despite (or perhaps due to) the fact I’m one of the heretics Saint Nicholas would have punched given half a chance. She found it amazing that somebody shares my viewpoint about not raising my son to believe in Santa.

    Rewind a moment to my heresy. I’m the step-daughter of a pastor and chaplain. While I may have turned my back on religion, I still live my life with what most people consider “good Christian morals and values” (love, forgiveness, compassion being hugely important). I still wipe the dust off one of my Bibles and open at a random page when I’m feeling a little lost or overwhelmed. I’m raising my son to hold dear the same values (of which he does an exceptional job for a seven year old), and I will be teaching him about Christianity (and other faiths) later on.

    Fast forward again. Still with me? Lovely.
    I have lost count the number of times people have criticised me for not giving Benjamin the “joy” of Santa. I can count on one hand the number of people who have been supportive of my decision.
    The Santa secret was ruined for me when I was about four years old, but Christmas was still a fun, wonderful time. Rather than allow my son to believe in something that isn’t real, only to disappoint him years later because it’s a betral of trust, I have given him something bigger than any material gift, and some large jolly man with a beard. Benjamin sees Christmas as a time to show love, compassion, and generosity. (Okay, and absurd amounts of food)
    My seven year old beautifully writes personalised cards for everyone he knows. Not just “To _____ From Ben”. He gives each person a message of thankfulness, a message of hope, and a message of love. When the respective recipients read his cards, almost all are moved to tears.
    There are a few homeless people who seek coin regularly in our neighbourhood – one of whom he gave his $5 of pocket money to of his own volition on a sweltering Melbourne summer afternoon, so that he could buy some water. A gesture the dear ol’ fella was moved to tears by, so he always does a drawing for Ben when we see him. The last few years, Ben raided our pantry and put things we hadn’t used in a box, and told me we should give the food to the homeless men so they could have something different to eat…. Their own Christmas feast. a gesture which moved the men to tears when it became clear it was Ben’s idea not mine.

    The magic of Christmas isn’t in consumerism, or an imaginary man giving presents to kids. My little boy found that the magic is in making others feel loved, appreciated, special. Simple gestures from a young boy made a profound difference to a large number of people. Knowing that he made people smile makes him feel good.

    Telling my son the truth about Santa hasn’t taken away from his childhood, but added more to his life.

    If you’re still with me, I commend you.
    Merry Christmas.
    xx

    1. I chose to tell my daughter that Santa was a game parents played and that we put up a tree and gave presents just like everyone of her friends whose parents said Santa was a real man. It caused some problems as children talk to each other and mine was no exception. I even got a call from a mother asking me to tell my daughter to lie when her children asked about what she thought of Santa. It was a decision which I felt strongly about, but it caused my daughter some trouble socially, as she was the only one of her friends who was told the truth early. I still think we could have a lovely Christmas and not lie to our children, but I am in the minority. Thanks for posting your story. It helps me to know I was not the only parent who took this path.

  9. My son has a vivid imagination and loves to play pretend. He does not fully understand what “Santa Claus” is, aside from the nice old fat man he takes photos with every year. This year is the first he will be able to understand any of the legend and we will be explaining to him that Santa is a pretend game and I imagine he will be very eager to play the game. I don’t want to deny my son the fun associated with Santa, but I also don’t want him to be taught the “importance of materialism” that has become associated with Santa. If he asks I will elaborate with a brief story of St. Nicholas brought to a level that a 3 year old can understand and then explain to him how the Santa game is played: that there is a legend about a man who goes from house to house and climbs down the chimneys and leaves presents for everyone (We will also be avoiding the manipulative part of the game wherein Santa leaves presents only if you behave according to your parents wishes). I will explain to him that everyone gets a surprise gift from someone and we say these gifts are from “Santa”. In the case of my husband and I, we usually find something that someone else has discarded and wrap it for the other with a tag saying “from Santa”. For example, one year my husband found some board games that a neighbor was planning to toss away and asked if he could have them. . .This year my son’s “Santa presents” were made by my husband and I out of furniture that we had planned on throwing out. So in this way, Santa becomes the spirit of conservativeness rather than of excess. I think it is a good lesson overall: more in keeping with St. Nicholas’ true spirit, and, while counter-cultural- he will avoid having to explain why he doesn’t participate in a game (lie) that is second-religion (or perhaps first-religion) to a society based on materialism.

  10. Gee, I guess that goes for the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, too. Let’s just suck all the fun out of kids’ lives while we’re at it!

    1. The schools suck the fun out of being a kid with incorrect history books and an excessive amount of homework. When does a kid get to be a kid? Not to mention the bullying that occurs. Nowadays you have to send your kid to school with a bullet proof vest and a firearm and a body guard. So you are saying it’s ok to lie to your kids and to worship a false God. Nice job, Father/Mother of the year. You’re teaching them it’s ok to lie and that greed is not a sin. You know what comic book guy on the Simpsons would say,”worst…..ever”.

  11. Wow!!!! Thank you so much for opening my small brain to this! Our parents told us about Santa and in turn my husband and I told our 3 squirts about Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy ect… My two older ones know the truth now, but not our littlest John Paul….he believes. I always thought it was harmless fun until I read your article. Thanks again and now I am off to Confession for all the lying I have been doing. 😉 God bless you for your work!!!

  12. In Mexico my parents would say “A ver que te trajo el Nino Dios” (“Let’s see what the Child Jesus brought you.”) The emphasis was placed on God and the fact that He provided the gifts which also served to highlight the fact that He should be the focus. As I got older I began to see it as God provided me parents and provided them the means for getting us these gifts, He is a generous God to whom we should at the very least be grateful to not just for the toys and such but also for the loving family He gave me.

  13. Reception of the gospel? Well, it looks like you’re already breaking your own rule by lying to your children about religion. Religion is entirely opinion-based. There is no logical basis for it, therefore presenting it as fact is an act of deception. I’m glad that you seem to be one of the few parents that understands the convoluted nature of the Santa myth and I respect you for speaking out against it, but condemning lying while praising religion seems hypocritical.

  14. I agree with you. The funny thing is though I was devastated to find out my parents were lying to me for so many years the Church had taught me about the real St Nicholas who I claim helped my dad quit smoking . Every Christmas for 4 years I asked St Nicholas to pray for this intention. On one hand I was disappointed it wasn’t him who snuck present under the tree ( I never got what I actually asked for anyways ) so I already had an inkling of an imposter in our midst. .but I still wanted to believe because I believed my parents told me the truth..I was more devastated that my parents would actually lie to me. I knew who the real StNicholas was and He is as real as you and me , just not the man in a red suit climbing down a chimney. I teach my daughter the myth but I tell her that is a story that is fiction but it’s an entertaining story. I tell her who the real Santa Clause is and she is very happy to see the fake Santa at the mall because he is a sign that Christmas is coming and to be in the full knowledge of the real help we get when we ask St Nick to pray for us!!

  15. We celebrate the Feast Day of St. Nicholas by putting out our stocking and then the kids wake up to a surprise gift inside (his story is where the tradition of hanging stocking comes from, afterall). From the beginning we never emphasized the Santa who rides around in a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer and comes on Christmas Eve to deliver presents, but taught them about St. Nicholas. Of couse Santa is all around them during Christmas time, and we explain to them how the story of St. Nicholas developed into Santa Clause. We learn about traditions around the world and how they view Santa Clause, and how they celebrate Christmas. They still enjoy movies about Santa, and Rudolf, and Frosty the Snowman, etc. and view them as fun Christmas entertainment. I don’t think that telling children about the truth of Santa ruins Christmas for them or takes away the “magic” of Christmas. I grew up with “believing” in Santa for a few years as a child and I don’t remember when I realized the truth, but when I did it didn’t traumatize me, but I do think as I got older, I missed the wonderment of Christmas, or what I thought it was, because receiving presents was such a big part of Christmas for me. I don’t want my kids to think of receiving presents from Santa as first in their mind when thinking of Christmas, but rather the fun and meaningful traditions we do during Advent to prepare our hearts and home for Jesus and traditions we do during the Christmas liturgical season (Christmas fun doesn’t end on Christmas day!). We learn about St. Nicholas because he was a wonderful saint and great example of the faith and generosity we are trying to instill in our children, and celebrating his feast day, which is during advent, is a perfect addition to the Christmas spirit. St. Nick has a part in Christmas, he’s just not the main focus. Our kids receive gifts on Christmas because it’s Jesus’ birthday. Santa has nothing to do with the presents they receive that day and that has not taken their joy in Christmas away.

  16. Oh, and of course my kids are constantly asked by people, “What did Santa bring you for Christmas?” And I just tell them to respectfully say “For Jesus’s birthday I got/received…
    or my oldest likes to say, “when we celebrated the feast of St. Nicholas I got…and for Jesus’ birthday I received…”

  17. My parents were the ones to make me believe in Santa since I was very young, but looking back, I really wished that they hadn’t. My mother tried to tell me when I was 11 years old that he wasn’t real, but I refused to believe her because I didn’t want to face the fact, even though I knew the truth. I guess it was a matter of growing up that was my problem, or the fact that magic didn’t exist anymore to me. But most of all, it was because I was confused and sad. I mean, how could my parents be lying to me all along? I didn’t know what to think anymore. I began looking back at Christmas as a time of misery, and not as a time of joy, because back then, I didn’t think about the birth of Jesus, only about waking up on December 25th to open up presents. It wasn’t until I was 12 or 13 before I truly realized why Christmas was celebrated- because of Christ’s birth. But once I realized that, I began to wonder why people still lie to their children about Santa, after all, it’s really the parents who do it all- the presents, the elf on the shelf, the whole myth, and so on. So what’s that all about? Just to see the joy on their children’s faces to know that they think a fat man did all that, and not them? Isn’t the birth of Jesus the greatest gift of all? The fact that I come from a Catholic family made it even harder to try to comprehend, and honestly, I couldn’t wrap my finger around it all. I had the conversation with my grandma who was raised Catholic, and she said that telling kids about Santa was all right. Somehow I couldn’t agree. I’m 15 years old now, so I’m old enough to know that Santa is not real but still young enough to remember more clearly about what I thought about Santa back then. Putting it all together, I just can’t find a reason why we are promoting Santa Claus instead of Jesus Christ. I guess Santa is just a marketing scheme, but with that being said, I don’t want to celebrate Christmas if it’s all just for that. I want to celebrate Christmas for Christ! I have a 6-year-old brother, and now my parents are doing the same thing with him about Santa. As the eldest, I can’t just stand around and watch my brother getting brainwashed now only to be heartbroken in a few more years like what happened to me. I didn’t want to ruin his fun, but I also didn’t want the same thing to happen to him as it did to me. I told him the truth. My parents were furious. However, he didn’t believe me, and just thought I was being mean to spoil his fun, so guess what? He’s rubbing it into my face all about Santa. I actually don’t know if he really believed me or not, or if he’s just doing this to spite me, but it’s all getting pretty annoying. Last week before Christmas Eve, all I heard from him was all about Santa and not a word about Jesus, even though I am sure he is old enough to really know about Christ being born, he set up the nativity scene himself and my parents always told us, but like me, I don’t think he understands that is truly why we celebrate Christmas. For Christmas, he got one of those stupid elf on the shelves, you know, one of those cheaply made elves parents are supposed to move around the house to say they are spying on you to tell Santa whether you are being good or not. He came a bit late, or so my brother says, and even though it’s past Christmas day my parents still have that elf out. This morning it was in the bathroom, sitting right across the toilet, and that was the final straw. I was sick of this mischief, and I certainly did not want some doll smiling at me as I did my business for the sake of Santa. So I moved it. But I forgot to put it back and my brother found out. Apparently, if you touch one of those things it’s dead and loses all of it’s Christmas magic. I told him he moved again, but my mother wouldn’t have it. Because I moved a creepy elf doll I was punished and I couldn’t see a movie today that I was planning to go to. Not only that, but my brother started kicking me and saying he was going to kill me if I touched it again. Then he called everyone he could from the phone to tell on what I did. Excuse me? All over a stupid myth I was getting punished, and I don’t have many days left for Christmas break, I was planning to see a movie before I had to go back to school. I guess it’s all over though, because now I am in big trouble, so that’s why I am writing this. I absolutely DO NOT think that this should be promoted for kids to believe, when it is encouraging them to be mean and greedy. There is magic all around without this Santa Claus belief. We should start thinking about Christ and keep Him in Christmas, not Santa Claus. However I do understand that Santa Claus was derived from St. Nicholas, but come on, he was actually a real person! And his feast day is celebrated on December 6th. St. Nicholas does not live in the North Pole with Mrs. Claus, nor does he have little elves who spy on children working for him or rides a flying sleigh with reindeer. All I’m saying is that we shouldn’t cause this drama to happen to kids, or lie to them even though Catholic’s believe that lying is wrong all for the sake of seeing them smile. Let’s smile because Christ was born to save us! Let’s take back Christmas and make it about Christ, NOT Santa Claus!

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