[SPOILER ALERT] Santa… Isn’t Real

Shocking, I know.  But sometimes, the truth hurts.

When asked about something that shocked me, my first thought was the truth about Santa Claus, and the other made up figures of my childhood (Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, etc.).  I thought back to how I found out the ugly truth…  My mom asked  me to go up to her closet one day in December to grab her slippers.  She always kept all of the presents for Christmas in her closet, but they were usually pretty well hidden.  When I got into her closet, however, I saw “Horse-opoly” sticking out between her shoe bins (a horse version of Monopoly).  Flash forward to Christmas day.  I saw my little sister open the game and she was so excited about it.  I asked her, “Oh, is that from mom and dad??”  And she replied, “No, it’s from Santa!!!”  Needless to say, I felt confused, shocked, and betrayed at the same time.

I found myself wondering about the history of Santa Claus–how had this myth come to be?  Why did parents go along with this myth and let their children believe in Santa Claus?  As it turns out, Saint Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, lived in Turkey in the 4th century.  He was remembered for  helping people in various ways, but some stories seem to have been blown out of proportion.  After his death, French Nun’s would apparently leave gifts at the homes of children at night in his honor.  This is where the idea of Santa Claus leaving gifts came from, I’m guessing.  There was also an annual feast held in his honor on December 25 after his death, so there is the connection with Christmas day.  Eventually, the tradition was brought to the United States by Dutch Settlers.  This is a very brief (and likely butchered) history of Saint Nicholas, but finding reliable sources on the matter was fairly difficult.  In some way or another, Saint Nick managed to become a part of Christian culture and ended up being idolized by children who believed in him.  I’m definitely guilty of writing letters to Santa when I was a kid, and I do not know which is more embarrassing to me: the fact that I wrote them, or the fact that my dad answered them (telling me that, in fact, I could NOT ride in Santa’s sleigh tonight).

This tradition is likely to continue, which I think is fine.  Part of the magic of Christmas as a child is believing that Santa climbed through your chimney to bring you presents at night.  While this is a large misconception that I held as a child, I know that my children will probably be tricked into thinking the same thing.  Christmas has transformed into something different for my family now that my sisters and I are old enough to know the truth, but it was fun while it lasted.  After all, what’s wrong with a little Christmas spirit?



6 thoughts on “[SPOILER ALERT] Santa… Isn’t Real

  1. First, I had no idea there was a horse-opoly!!?!! That’s pretty awesome.
    I love that you chose to write about this for the blog this week! It’s such an iconic part of childhood in the United States. Something that has always impressed me is that many countries around the world celebrate this tradition in a unique way. My family hosted a German exchange student a few years ago and we learned all about the Christmas angel that comes and leaves gifts. I also remember learning about another country (Mexico maybe?) where presents are left in children’s shoes. It’s cool to see that these countries all have different practices but they’re all still pretty similar in some ways.

  2. What an interesting question. I wonder how people do react and if that says anything about them? Did you answer your own poll? Did you feel more confused or betrayed?

    I think the gift-giving is also tied up with the whole three Magi bringing gifts to Jesus. Also, Dec 25 as Jesus birthday was made up by early church leaders to sync up with the older saturnalia tradition of Romans that was a celebration of the end of winter and featured…. candles, evergreens, feasts, and gift-giving. SO, lots of influences on gift-giving in Christmas’ multicultural history. In Spain, and other Latin countries gifts come on Jan 6, the day the three kings supposedly arrived.

  3. You don’t have my option in your poll! You need a “meh” option.
    I was ~3.5 years old. I saw the bunny at the mall, and declared to my parents “Hey – there’s a *guy* in there!” and I remember distinctly, on the way home, realizing that by extension there wasn’t a santa or tooth fairy either.
    Note I’m the oldest of five, so I’m not sure what my brothers’ stories are, but I know this didn’t last particularly long for any of us. My mom has since said it was not something they pushed because they wanted us to believe them when they told us about other things. It’s a practice we adopted. We didn’t ever tell the kids santa was real (the line was “It’s a fun story, isn’t it?”) but I noticed G in particular *wanted* to believe, despite the fact that he had both figured it out and had it confirmed by us. He constructed alternate explanations where we were wrong. I’m not sure whether that was peer pressure or imagination.

  4. I posted to facebook and two people didn’t like your choices.

    None of the options work for me.
    45 mins · Like

    I think that, for me and many, it was more of a “Well… yeah… of course he doesn’t exist,” following a couple of years of simmering skepticism.
    43 mins · Like

  5. It’s funny that you chose to write about this because I was also contemplating whether or not I should dedicate my blog entry to the fact that Santa is a myth. It was rather disappointing when I discovered that my parents had been purchasing my presents all along, and my Dad drinking the milk and eating the cookies. I learned that Saint Nick was a myth at the playground in elementary school. It was fairly devastating. On that note, I do think that the idea of Santa gave me great joy every Christmas and an element of surprise that I hadn’t experienced again until my nieces were born. I play on continuing the tradition of making Santa Clause a real person living in the North Pole for my children and will most likely, enjoy watching all of the classic Christmas movies with them.

  6. Like you I also had to find out the hard way that Santa was not real. I don’t remember my exact age, but on the night before Christmas I decided that I was going to see if I could catch Santa coming down the chimney. So i took my pillow and blanket and found a nice hiding spot behind my couch. Shortly after I came across my father eating and drinking the milk and cookies I had just laid out for Santa. At the same time my mother was putting presents under the tree that said they were from Santa. It was pretty tough for me to accept it at the time, but I eventually got over it.

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