As people around the world celebrate Saint Nicholas Day today, one is reminded that the 4th century Greek Bishop of Myra (modern-day Turkey) is the inspiration for the American classic Christmas figure, Santa Claus.
That being said, should Christian parents embrace or abolish Santa Claus during the Christmas holiday season?
“Christian parents have a particular issue” regarding what they should tell their children about Christmas, R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, pointed out in a Dec. 22, 2009, broadcast of the Albert Mohler radio program.
“It is virtually impossible to avoid the question,” he observed.
“We are truthtellers and we are also parents and we have an agenda, making it clear to children that there’s a historical story … of a historical St. Nicholas, Nicholas of Myra,” Mohler said.
St. Nicholas was a devout Christian who was known to do good works in Jesus’ name, including secret gift-giving. His life is celebrated each year on Dec. 6.
Bob Smithouser, senior editor of Plugged In – a Focus on the Family website that reviews movies, music and videogame – is one evangelical Christian who celebrates St. Nicholas Day.
“Every St. Nicholas eve, by knowing the truth about (the real) St. Nick they get a bonus,” he told The Christian Post. “But they know it was not the real story behind Christmas, the birth of Christ.”
He said it was a good example for other parents to follow when the issue of Santa comes up.
Parents need to make clear the difference between the historical figure and the mythical Santa, and also that it is secondary to the real story of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, he advised.
“I’m not passing judgment on those who do it differently, but I do tell people, ‘Hey this is what my family does,’” he said. “Each family has to decide for themselves what to tell their children.”
His example echoed Mohler’s advice: “There’ a good story to be told there – Christians are indeed (supposed to) give, encourage, be kind,” Mohler said. But “Christmas is about the birth of Jesus and not only is that story superior in every way (to the story behind St. Nicholas) – it is true … the truest truth in the entire world.”
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” Mohler stated.