Given the secular emphasis on Santa each Christmas, some children (and probably even a few adults!) confuse Santa with Jesus, especially in thinking that Christmas is centered around Santa, rather than Jesus.
Millions of Christians throughout history would probably be shocked to discover how people in the United States could associate Jesus, the Savior of the world, with Santa, a fat guy in a red suit.
Historically, Christmas was and is a feast of the birth of Jesus, which celebrated the Son of God becoming human, while December 6th was devoted to St. Nicholas, the historical basis for Santa.
Even though their histories are much different, there still exists some confusion about the relationship between Santa and Jesus, especially among non-Christians and non-Westerners.
A tradition of receiving gifts also developed around St. Nicholas day, further strengthening the connection of St. Nicholas (Santa) to gifts.
However, in the United States, the Christmas and St. Nicholas traditions merged. St. Nicholas became Santa and started to compete with the sacred emphasis on the birthday of Jesus.
Although the Santa traditions can encourage materialism, they can also, properly used, teach children some of the lessons of Jesus.
Like Jesus, Santa expects children to do what is right. Santa is joyful and generous, both traits of Jesus. There are even pictures portraying Santa praying to Jesus, to show the proper relationship between the two.
However, it's important for Christian parents not to confuse Santa and Jesus in the minds of children who have a tendency to see God and Jesus as wish granters in the sky. Jesus is not a non-North Pole version of Santa.
By Jonathan Bennett
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