Saturday, November 20, 2021

What is the UU teaching about the Santa Claus myth?


Santa Claus, that peculiarly American avatar of Saint Nicholas, remains surprisingly controversial for a character who promotes good will and generosity among children. Some secularists think he is too Christian—and ban him from public schools—and some Christians say he is too secular—and ban him from church. But there is another dividing line between Santa's supporters and opponents that cuts across religious lines: 85 percent of American children under five believe that Santa Claus is real. Is this good or bad? Is telling children about Santa Claus passing on a tradition, sharing a fantasy . . . or telling a lie?

Rebecca Sicree, "Is Santa Claus Real?", Touchstone, Nov./Dec. 2021 p.15

How does the Santa Claus myth fit with the UU principle of the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Is the perpetuation of the Santa myth "responsible?"

The Santa Claus myth is for children which encourages them to believe in a world of enchantment and wonder. The Santa Claus myth is also for adults which encourages them to be generous and care and share with others.

There are three stages of human development:

  1. You believe in Santa.
  2. You don't believe in Santa.
  3. You are Santa.
Mature UUs become Santa which is embodied in our second principle which is to affirm and promote justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.

The key factor in the Santa myth is in gift giving. The second factor is that it is based on conditional love so that the gifts that are given or received are based on whether the recipient is "naughty or nice." Will it be an orange in your stocking or a lump of coal?

UUs don't believe in conditional love, but rather have historically been strong advocates for unconditional love and therein lies the rub for UUs when it comes to the Santa Claus myth. UUs believe that Santa loves all people unconditionally and, as such, is an avatar for the Unconditional Love of our Transcendent Source.

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