|Santa Claus and St. Nicholas|
Everybody loves Santa Claus. He embodies holiday cheer, happiness, fun, and gifts—warm happy aspects of the Christmas season. How do Santa Claus and St. Nicholas differ?
Santa Claus belongs to childhood;
St. Nicholas models for all of life.
Santa Claus, as we know him, developed to boost Christmas sales—the commercial Christmas message;
St. Nicholas told the story of Christ and peace, goodwill toward all—the hope-filled Christmas message.
Santa Claus encourages consumption;
St. Nicholas encourages compassion.
Santa Claus appears each year to be seen and heard for a short time;
St. Nicholas is part of the communion of saints, surrounding us always with prayer and example.
Santa Claus flies through the air—from the North Pole;
St. Nicholas walked the earth—caring for those in need.
Santa Claus, for some, replaces the Babe of Bethlehem;
St. Nicholas, for all, points to the Babe of Bethlehem.
Santa Claus isn't bad;
St. Nicholas is just better.
As you see, there is a lot more to the Christmas season than just opening gifts on Christmas day. I like that St. Nicholas was one of the earliest saints to be revered for his life and not martyrdom (he died peacefully of old age). There are two points I would like to make about St. Nicholas Day. The first is that our faith is ancient. We have a strong anchor in this turbulent world. The second point is that there is more to our faith than can be disputed in a five page article in a secular magazine. We can enjoy our holiday season. We can be respectful of other faiths at this time of year. But we need to remember why we celebrate Advent and Christmas. The love of the Christ Child cannot be so easily taken from us. There is an abundance of spirituality in the Catholic tradition if we seek it. So let's put some candy in our children's shoes. Then we can tell them why it is there. Isn't that sweet?