Santa isn’t real?


Santa Claus is one of the most common symbols of Christmas. The story of him flying across the globe with his reindeer and delivering presents to children is known around the world. But Santa wasn’t always known as a jolly, white-bearded man in a red suit.

The story of Santa can be traced back to hundreds of years ago, with a monk named St. Nicholas. St. Nicholas became well-known in Europe for his kindness and generosity through many legends.

Knowledge of St. Nicholas spread to America in the 18th century when Dutch families would honor the anniversary of his death. The name “Santa Claus” itself comes from Sinter Klaas, which is a shortened Dutch version of Saint Nicholas.

In the 1840s, newspapers began to use Santa Claus as an image in their holiday advertisements. Stores also capitalized on Santa’s popularity by hiring men to dress up as Santa to attract business. This solidified the bond between Santa and giving Christmas presents.

Finally, in 1881, Thomas Nast drew Santa as a round, jolly man with a white beard and red suit, and also depicted the North Pole, the elves, and Mrs. Claus. His illustrations were very important in forming the idea of Santa that is familiar to many people.

While St. Nicholas was a real person many years ago, the story of Santa giving presents to nice children on Christmas is not quite as truthful. It is well-known, and often passed down from parent to child, but it is only widely believed by young children. One way or another, children eventually learn that the gifts from Santa were from their parents all along.

Senior Rachel Manetz firmly believed in Santa Claus until she was in fifth grade. When her friends told stories about seeing their parents wrapping presents “From Santa”, she came up with an alternate explanation instead of accepting the harsh reality.

“I formed a theory that because the parents bought presents that were ‘From Santa’, their parents didn’t believe in Santa either. They just did his work for him and Santa just saw it as one less house to visit,” Manetz says.

When her mother finally told her Santa didn’t exist, Manetz didn’t believe her until she saw the box to a gift she had supposedly received from Santa in their storage room downstairs.

“I broke down in tears even though I was never really one to cry,” Manetz says.

Junior Amanda Houthoofd was surprised on one Christmas morning when she went downstairs and saw her parents putting Christmas presents under the tree.

“I didn’t confront them,” Houthoofd says. “But I was really upset about it.”

Catching parents in the act of wrapping presents seems to be a common way children have their belief in Santa shattered.

“I woke up and walked out into the living room where our tree was, and my mom was there wrapping the presents. I started crying and ran back to my room,” sophomore Bethani Belanger says.

Other kids had their belief in Santa fall apart along with their trust in the existence of other childhood figures, such as the Easter bunny and tooth fairy.

“I lost my last tooth,” senior Brandi Randall says. “My mom told me, ‘Brandi, the tooth fairy isn’t real,’ and I said, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding me!’”

After inquiring about the Easter bunny and hearing her mom confirm that he wasn’t real either, Randall decided not to even ask about Santa, and concluded that he was fictional.

“Then I found the stashing place for the Christmas presents,” Randall says. “I was kind of bummed, but I was mostly pretty excited.”

Although some children find out about Santa from their friends before their parents, other children who find out early feel pressured to keep the secret from their friends. The preservation of children’s belief in Santa has become part of the Christmas tradition as much as the cookies, presents or Christmas tree.

“I was six or seven,” senior Jenna Berry says. “I figured it out around Christmas time, but my parents told me not to tell anyone else because it would ruin the Christmas spirit.”