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The Real God Of The Season; Santa Claus


By James Donahue

December, 2004


Everybody says Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ but that is not reality. When you study social behavior at this time of the year it becomes quite clear that the real deity of the season is Santa Claus.


Think of it, the image of Santa is posted everywhere. Adults dress in his image and become representatives of this deity where children can come and present their prayers and requests.


Then at one magical time of the year, on the eve of December 25, the day we call Christmas, this amazing god allegedly visits every home by either walking through walls or sliding down chimneys, bringing gifts.


Parents, of course, work as ambassadors for this god. They whisk the children off to their beds and then secretly bring the gifts before an alter of Santa, a brightly lighted Yule tree, erected on his behalf.


There also are offerings left at an alter for Santa, usually in the form of food. This deity is believed to be especially fond of milk and cookies.


If you think I am getting silly about this, consider the following thoughts by Aaron Leitch in an essay titled “Santa Claus, Ancient God - Modern Deity.”


Leitch notes that the Santa myth claims Santa was a real person named Kristopher Kringle who was declared a saint for his good works by the Catholic Church. Later, through myth and legend, Kringle grew to become a deity.


Leitch suggests that Santa worship includes all of the following:


--Sacred Images. We display images of Santa, his sleigh and reindeer everywhere. His face adorns billboards, school art displays, and on home yard displays. He is often shown under bright fluorescent lighting. People dressed like Santa appear in public parades and stand on city street corners waving at crowds.


--Holy Days. Santa makes his appearance every year on Christmas Eve. At least that is the story. It is a magical day filled with great expectation for answered prayer.


--Numerous and specific rites and rituals. During the weeks prior to Santa’s appearance, the decorations are erected all over town. Evergreen trees are cut and set up in our homes then decorated with bright lights, bulbs, and other gaudy things. Children write prayer lists and some are even mailed through the postal service to Santa who allegedly lives at the North Pole. People dressed as Santa make public appearances in shopping malls, at church events, and seasonal parties, usually issuing gifts of candy and good will.


--Specific Eucharist. The communion for us is usually always in the form of sugar. We eat lots of candy, rich deserts, fatty foods and there are always bowls of nuts to be consumed. The constant sugar high gives us an unpleasant sensation, but it is always one we associate with this sacred holiday.


--Sacred foods, plants, colors, and other ornaments. This usually involves the a big dinner on Christmas Day with all of the relatives gathered to eat it. The poinsettia is considered the official flower of the season, as is holly, mistletoe and the ever present Christmas Tree. The ornaments around the house include images of stars, angels, Santa and occasionally there will be a manger scene. That is optional and not required.


--Specific temple lay out and sacred objects. Much of this is covered in the above paragraph. The temple, of course, is our home. The rites are covered elsewhere on this list.


--Specific dances and music. We listen constantly to special music on our radios, our stereos, and we sing them at public gatherings. It is customary for groups to go out around the town singing Christmas carols in front of neighbor’s homes. Often the singers are rewarded with handouts of cookies, candy and sometimes hot chocolate. The dances are usually done during presentations of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Ballet” on area stages or our television screens.


--Divinations, Visions and petitions for Santa’s aid or blessing. Children write letters, leave notes under the tree, or visit the deity’s official representatives in area malls and stores prior to the big arrival on Christmas Eve. They ask for specific gifts that they feel, once received, will make them extremely happy.


--Sacred scripture and mythology. The popular Christmas poem “Twas The Night Before Christmas” by Major Henry Livingston Jr. spells out the legend of Santa Claus as we know it today. Everyone, however, knows that Santa comes down from his home in the North Pole on Christmas Eve to visit all of the homes in the world at one magical moment. The fat bearded old man in the bright red suit magically enters the houses bringing gifts without ever being seen. He rides in a sleigh driven through the sky by a team of reindeer. All of the animals have names. Santa is aided in the manufacture of his gifts by elves that live with him at the pole.


--Certain sins and offenses against the commandments of this deity bring certain threats. That is because Santa “knows if you’ve been bad or good” and only rewards good children with gifts. There is a constant threat that a bad child might be left with nothing more than a lump of coal in his or her stocking on Christmas morning.


--There is an organized priesthood that serves Santa. This can be seen in every city and town. They are the men and sometimes women who dress up in red Santa costumes and act as his representative. Also the parents of the children perform certain rites, such as intense shopping sprees, gift wrapping, decorating the home, and then placing gifts under the tree after the children are asleep. Thus they are also members of Santa’s priesthood who become a direct link to the god by invocation of Him.


--Altered state of consciousness. People become extremely joyful during the days preceding Santa’s arrival. That is because they are often high on sugar or liquor, but there is a shared atmosphere of false happiness that prevails. Occasionally there are people who cannot tap into this altered state and they go into deep states of depression. Suicide rates are highest during this holiday. The others become sullen Scrooges who shut their doors and wait until the foolishness is over.