As the holiday season and Christmas approaches, the ever-popular Santa Claus story is pulled out once again and used in our commercialized society excessively…to the point, we are encouraged to believe Christmas is more about a robust Saint Nick than the birth of the Savior of the world.
Feeding into this Santa Claus commercialization and in an effort “aimed at in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions,” an atheist group has placed bill boards throughout Bible Belt states, including Arkansas and Missouri, featuring a child writing a letter to Santa. The child writes, “I’m too old for church.”
It’s enough to say that the atheists are seeking to take Christ’s message out of the Christmas holiday, but it’s also interesting that the atheists chose to use Santa Claus to do it and show bill board readers that they might be unfamiliar with the legends surrounding the man that we call today, Santa Claus.
The Christmas tradition of Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas, or Sinter Klaas evolved from the tale of a kindly Christian Bishop from Turkey. According to legend, the Bishop was in fact a Christian missionary who spent his wealth visiting the poor and sick. According to one story, the Bishop even paid the dowry for impoverished young girls who might have been sold into slavery without his assistance.
In Protestant Holland, the Dutch celebrated Sinter Klaas’ benevolence with a feast day (separate from Christmas) that would have been celebrated on December 6th. And as far back as the 18th century in America, Dutch New Yorkers gathered their families for a celebration in December on the anniversary of the death of Sinter Klaas.
While Santa Claus is commercialized today and lacks the Christian message his name once carried, the original Sinter Klaas was a kind and giving soul, who gave in the true spirit of Christmas all year around. And the true legend of Santa Claus is generally accepted as having a Christian origin.
Though the atheists may not agree, we’re never too old for church or the true meaning of Christmas which is centered around the manger. Even a group of atheists, unwittingly using a legendary Christian Bishop to validate and commercialize their message, can’t take Christ– the Savior of the world– out of Christmas!