Tag Archives: Christmas

Why I Tell My Kids Santa Claus is Real

Thanks to elPadawan for the Santa photo!What is real? I taught my children when they were young that Santa Claus was real. At their age, I saw nothing inherently wrong with it. My parents taught me Santa Claus was real and went to great lengths to keep me convinced into my teens. When my children were a bit older, I had a crisis of conscience in which I became convinced that by telling my children Santa was real I was lying to them. How could I expect them to be honest and truthful with me when I was lying to them. And I most certainly did have such an expectation for them.

The Santa-is-a-lie phase of my life lasted for a few years, then I changed my mind again. At that point, I tried again to convince them he was real, but I meant something different by it and they knew it. What did I mean though?

Santa is real in the same way Aslan is real; Aslan is real in two ways. First, Aslan is real in that he is analogous to (a type of) or even allegorical to the real, historical, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is real, He rules and reigns, He loves and forgives, He blesses and gives. Aslan does all of those things through story, but he also embodies the actions of the real Jesus and becomes a type for us to imitate as we seek to mature in our imitation of Christ Himself.

Second, Aslan is real in that he actually does things to us and changes us. Certainly, much of this comes through the stories themselves. As a reader of The Chronicles of Narnia, I encounter Aslan and he makes me want to be a better person. I become (or strive to become) more caring and loving, firm and assertive, kind and compassionate like the Aslan I encounter in the stories. My actual person changes because of these encounters.

Santa is real in the same two ways. First, he is the character that continues in story today to typify the historical Saint Nicholas, the gift-giving, heretic-slapping saint of the third and fourth centuries. Second, he embodies characteristics and traits that affect and change who we are or who we will become. My generosity is spurred by the stories of the generosity of the modern Santa Claus and the historical Saint Nicholas. My behavior is tempered by the desire to be nice and not naughty because of these same stories.

Doesn’t something qualify as “real” precisely because of its ability to have a real impact on us as human beings? If I’ve hurt someone and they convince me that they have forgiven me, aren’t I changed by the belief that I’ve been forgiven? Won’t I treat that person differently because I’ve believed they’ve forgiven me? But what if they have not in fact forgiven me? The forgiveness is not “real” in that they have not actually forgiven me, but isn’t it “real” in that I have believed it to be genuine and have altered my own behavior as a result of that belief?

In that sense, I can answer and persuade my children that Santa Claus is real. He is someone who will inform their identity and change them, hopefully for the better–just as the stories of the historic Saint Nicholas will, the life of their Lord Jesus Christ will, and the stories of the favorite lion, Aslan, will.

Advent and Christmas: Interview with Steve Wilkins

Here is the audio from my interview with Pastor Steve Wilkins. We discuss Saint Nicholas, Advent, Christmas, the Church Calendar (and why it’s important!)

A good interview. Although we ran out of time, so I didn’t get a chance to convert him into a Notre Dame fan. Maybe next time…

 

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The History of Christmas and St. Nicholas

This Wednesday, December 7th, at 12:00 EST, I will be interviewing Pastor Steve Wilkins of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church. We will be discussing the history of St. Nicholas and Christmas. I will be interviewing as part of the Leigh at Lunch! internet radio program by author and Christian education leader, Leigh Bortins.

I am really looking forward to hearing him on this topic, as I’ve been able to hear some of this stuff on this in the past. You will thoroughly enjoy the conversation, Pastor Wilkins has a great grasp of history.

The only problem is that he really doesn’t like my Fighting Irish, I only hope we can partake in the Christmas spirit and get past that.

Is the Jesus of Christmas Safe?

“If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just silly.”

“Then he isn’t safe,” asked Lucy.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Don’t you heart what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Merry Christmas! All hail the King of kings!

Dating Christ’s Birth

I have myself accepted the argument of Christ’s birth being linked to December 25th due to paganism. So much so, that for a time, my family didn’t celebrate Christmas at all–it being a pagan holiday (in our minds).

The most loudly touted theory about the origins of the Christmas date(s) is that it was borrowed from pagan celebrations. The Romans had their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December; barbarian peoples of northern and western Europe kept holidays at similar times. To top it off, in 274 C.E., the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on December 25. Christmas, the argument goes, is really a spin-off from these pagan solar festivals. According to this theory, early Christians deliberately chose these dates to encourage the spread of Christmas and Christianity throughout the Roman world: If Christmas looked like a pagan holiday, more pagans would be open to both the holiday and the God whose birth it celebrated.

However, I have since reconsidered this argument. My family celebrates Christmas, rejecting its supposed pagan connections for more Biblical arguments as to why the people of God should celebrate their delivery from sin, death, hell, and Satan through Jesus Christ.  And so, the following discussion is of particular interest to me:

Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus died was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.

I’m not sure it matters how accurate our dating is, as to whether or not we celebrate victory in Christ. But it is always a point of discussion. So, if you’d like to read more of the argument, you can do so at Biblical Archaeology Review’s How December 25th Became Christmas.