The Holiday Season and Santa: Letters from Father Christmas Himself
It’s nothing new to grown-ups that the magic of Christmas is a big jolly old man in a bright red suit. Children’s fascination with the holiday is thanks to the mysterious and all-powerful figure that gets to decide on what gifts to leave on their decorated Christmas trees by the holiday’s eve. To ensure that kids are on Santa’s ‘nice’ list, they go to great lengths to be a little extra polite in the holidays. But the last chance to be on the list comes from writing to Santa himself.
The holiday season is a mixed bag of traditions and cultures ranging from putting up the Christmas tree, preparing gifts for loved ones, and setting up a feast for the festive event. One peculiar tradition is the act of writing to the mysterious Santa Claus which is rooted in a quirky yet touching example of the human capacity for compassion
Santa Claus’ origins
Santa Claus is based on the realhistorical figure of St. Nicholas of Myra. As a devoted Christian, he spent his time serving the poor and showing generosity wherever he went. Stories about his good deeds passed on from culture to culture, eventually turning the saint into a universal symbol of hope and joy. Certain countries have opted to adapt his story and good deeds into their accounts. He was no longer known just as Saint Nicholas, but also Father Christmas and Sinter Klass, which eventually led to the name Santa Claus.
Based on the nickname given to him by the Dutch, his iconic red suit born from the traditional bishop robes that he wore which transformed in later representations of the mythical character. Thomas Nast’s first illustrations of Santa Claus in Harper’s Weekly was what cemented his iconic red suit and scruffy white beard which we all know and love today.
Santa as a moral compass and a figure of hope
Contrary to current predictions of the jolly man in red, Santa wasn’t all about the gift giving. Santa was known to ‘write to children’ by evaluating whether or not they had been good throughout the year. Parents used the persona of Santa Claus to help their children grow into better persons by having a mythical figure watch over them that promised to reward them for good behaviour.
All across the globe, children write to Santa close to the holiday season. While others simply wished for toys or gifts, others have a more charitable plight asking for funding for operations or even to have their little wishes granted in the hopes that someone would be listening, or in this case reading, their handwritten letters.
Different charity organisations and websites, such as the UK’s own http://www.laplandletters.co.uk, allow for the tradition of letter writing to stay true to today’s modern age. With such a fantastic urban legend on its back and the history of people’s compassion driving them to create Santa-like acts all on their own, the joy of Christmas is indeed in the act of giving.