Opinion: Will Christians Try to Cancel Santa Claus?

Walter Rhein

Photo byWalter Rhein

As I was driving through my neighborhood, I saw several signs that said, “Keep Christ in Christmas.” However, what many people don’t seem to understand is that Christianity is a religion that absorbs other traditions.

For example, there’s no proof that Jesus was born on December 25th. The celebration was moved to that date because it’s near the winter solstice.

It was always typical for indigenous people to celebrate the sun. It makes perfect sense to worship the sun when you think about it. The sun provides light and heat. Farming cultures structured their lives around the changing seasons. Therefore, both the solstices and the equinoxes were sacred dates.

When the church moved in, they generally observed and absorbed local traditions. This is why if you look at ancient artwork, you’ll see depictions of Jesus doing things that aren’t in the Bible.

So, perhaps the first thing that must be done for those who want to “Keep Christ in Christmas” is to move Christmas to a more appropriate date.

Another thing to consider is the issue of Santa Claus. Essentially, in the United States of America, Christmas isn’t about Christ or Christianity at all. Let’s face it, the holiday is about opening presents, eating turkey, and watching football.

Some families put up a Nativity scene, but the tree dominates the decorations in most households. That’s ironic because the Christmas tree as we know it has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. Christmas trees are left over from the solstice traditions I discussed earlier.

Of course, there is no mention of Santa Claus in the Bible. However, few people will debate that Santa dominates Christmas far more than Jesus does.

Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense for the people who want to “Keep Christ in Christmas” to swap out Santa for Jesus? In one fell swoop, they could make Jesus the central figure of the holiday.

How much of a concern is this? Well, it becomes more complicated if you consider what Santa Claus has come to represent. He travels the entire world in one night giving gifts. Those are certainly god-like powers. I’m honestly surprised that the church hasn’t considered celebrating Santa to be a violation of the Ten Commandments.

Isn’t Santa, quite literally, a god that is put before all others at least on Christmas?

We live in a society in which the Christian community regularly labels certain behaviors as “sinful” based on Biblical teaching. These beliefs lead to pressure on our legal system to pass laws that force people to live in accordance with religious teachings.

Some people try to claim that their beliefs are not “discrimination” because they’re based on religion. However, that argument seems invalid to me. Your religion does not justify other unlawful behavior. In the United States of America, all citizens are expected to obey the laws of our country.

My question is why can religious groups disregard certain Biblical teachings and then become hyper-fixated on others? All this shows is that the religious community is not bound by their religious text. They have established a historical precedent of changing what they consider to be a sin based on evolving times.

The United States feels as if it’s facing a decision. There has been a growing movement of Christian Nationalism. There is already widespread pressure to rewrite the laws of our country to more fully align with scripture.

Too often, ideas like that are discussed without real exploration of what the proposal might entail. From a purely literal reading of the Bible, we probably shouldn’t be setting out cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. That is a form of worship, isn't it? Those are offerings, aren't they?

Is that the kind of society you want for your children? Do you want a society that would cancel Santa? That's where we seem to be heading. Perhaps it’s better to continue with the traditional approach of not pushing religious beliefs on anyone.

Personally, I would prefer that we not cancel Santa. Christmas is a time of year to show tolerance and respect to all the people in our community. We should show compassion and respect to people of other religions. We should show compassion and respect to people of other races. We should show compassion and respect regardless of sexual orientation.

Perhaps being reminded of that is the best way to put Christ back into Christmas.

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Walter Rhein is an author with Perseid Press. He also does a weekly column for The Writing Cooperative on Medium.

Chippewa Falls, WI

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