Charlie Brown's disillusion with the commercialization of Christmas resonates deep within me. But according to some of the links below, merchants have been using Santa to sell stuff at Christmas time for almost two-hundred years!
Listen to this NPR Story - The Slide from Saint Nicholas to Santa Claus.
Copy and paste this link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5067257&sc=emaf
As a Christian, there is a need to do something with Santa Claus. I can't ignore him, he is intertwined with Christmas in America. As an American, as a Christian, how do I celebrate Christmas with Santa Claus?
One tactic has been to uncover the origins of Santa; but there are two origins. Santa as we know him originated around the 1700's, around the time of the Revolution; but the original inspiration for Santa was, as we all know by now, Saint Nicholas.
It's been alot of fun to uncover some interesting historical facts about the real life (and mythic) of Saint Nicholas. One theory is that the Protestants, in their effort to cleanse the communities of Catholic influence, increased the secular rise of Santa Claus - if people couldn't be religious about St. Nick, they'd keep the tradition without the religious sentiment that would get them in trouble. So here I am, as a Protestant, trying to discover the great heritage of this Saint Nicholas! Click here to uncover a great site with fascinating stuff: Who Is Saint Nicholas? http://www.stnicholascenter.org/Brix?pageID=38
If you click on that link, you'll also find some more great articles, like: Saint Nicholas and the Origin of Santa Claus.
It's interesting to keep in mind that Santa Claus was created to sell toys, he is designed to drive the commerce of our nation forward. But, as classical Americans, we can make Santa Claus be anything we want!
It's the same with Saint Nicholas, he was born into savage times, was used by Jesus to save the weak and poor, and he demonstrated the generosity in God, and all the time directing people to their Father in Heaven, the true Father Christmas. But as all people do, Saint Nicholas was made into someone bigger than life, and yet behind all the mythic legends is this truth: he loved Jesus and loved others as Jesus, and that story just never gets old - it still inspires what is best about our American commercialized Christmas!
And if you want to remember what Charlie Brown and Linus have to say about Christmas, here you go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKk9rv2hUfA