Perhaps the thing about Christmas that bothers Christians more than anything else is Santa Claus. Is Santa a hopelessly pagan idea, or can Santa Claus be saved?

SANTA CLAUS- A Nonessential
Santa Claus is not essential or even very important to Christmas. I mean you can take Santa out of Christmas and Christmas remains intact. However, you cannot take Christ out of Christmas, because all that you would have left is a pagan festival. So, whatever else we might say about Santa Claus, let’s remember that he is not what Christmas is all about.

Now, while Santa Claus in its present form is a fairy tale, there really was a Santa Claus. His name, “Santa Claus” is an Anglicized form of the Dutch Sinter Klaas, which in turn means “Saint Nicholas.” Nicholas was a Christian bishop in the fourth century who apparently attended the Council of Nicea and supported the doctrine of the Trinity. The tradition that he was especially kind toward children, even giving them gifts, is very likely based on fact. Thus Christians might justifiably look to the real Saint Nicholas as a hero of the Christian faith.

Of course, the story that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole in a toy factory, that he sees children at all times and knows whether they’ve been bad or good, and that he flies in a sled pulled by flying reindeer, is of course, a myth and should be treated as such. Christian parents can take two approaches to this Santa Claus story. As a make-believe story with a moral they can tell their small children the parts of the story that are harmless (such as the flying reindeer) and reject the other parts that are objectionable (such as Santa being all-knowing, or Santa being omniscient). Or parents can reject the whole story and have absolutely nothing to do with it. In any case, Christians should not allow Santa Claus to eclipse Christ as the reason for the season. On Santa Claus, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.