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The History of Christmas: Day 11 – Is There a Santa Claus? (1897 CE) December 20, 2012

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The History of Christmas
Day 11: Is There A Santa Claus? – 1897 CE

 

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In 1823, a poem, written by noted theologian and biblical scholar Clement Clark Moore for his family a year earlier, almost single-handedly rekindled the celebration of Christmas. Moore’s “right jolly old elf” with his “miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer” ignited a conundrum of “to believe or not to believe” that stays with us 185 years later. They called him “Father Christmas,” “Kris Kringle,” and “Saint Nicholas” in Europe, but Americans decided upon a mispronunciation of the Dutch, “Sinterklaas,” which came out “Santa Claus.”

Over the past seventy years, Santa Claus has taken on the specter of Christmas secular. To my mind, this is an unfair demotion for the old elf who has brought so much joy to young children over the same time-frame. The Christian/secular argument, however, is totally lost in the single-most asked question every Christmas season – “Do you believe in Santa Claus?

*

Francis Pharcellus Church, lead editor of the New York Sun on the 20th of September, 1897, sat in his office busy with his work when he was interrupted by a knock at his door.

“Come in.”

A young mail room clerk entered and handed him a folded piece of paper.

“Sorry to bother you, Frank. This just came in downstairs and the Boss heard about it and wants you to write an answer for tomorrow’s editorial section.”

Frank looked up at the regulator.

“It’s pretty close to deadline, John. Are you sure he wants this for tomorrow’s paper?”

“Yes sir. He says it’s very important and if you have any questions whatsoever, to call him immediately.”

As the clerk turned and disappeared out the door, Frank looked at the postmark on the envelope clipped to the folded sheet of paper. It was from 95th street in the city. Unfolding the paper, he read the childish scrawl:

Dear Editor – I am 8 years old. Some of my friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in the Sun, it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? Virginia O’Hanlon 115 West Ninety-fifth Street

Church, son of a Baptist minister, set the letter down and looked back at the clock. He realized the importance of being truthful in his answer. He also realized the scrutiny his answer would be given, not just by the children of New York, but by the church affiliated readers of the Sun. He drew a deep breath and slipped a sheet of paper into his Remington. Stopping first to consider his wording, he began to type:

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

He then typed out young Virginia’s letter. Stopping to sharpen his thoughts, he began his answer:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.

He decided not just to draw parallels and answer the child with abstract ideas. He felt it best to face the issues head on.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Then he waxed philosophical.

In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

After which he dealt with issues of reality by contrasting the seen versus the unseen world.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

He drew from his religious background to support his answer as an issue of fundamental faith.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

He closed from a position of strength.

NO SANTA CLAUS! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

The article appeared in the next day’s issue of the Sun. His words, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” have gone down in history as one of the most profound answers to a question ever asked by a child.

*

Clement Clark Moore’s description of Christmas Eve became the example of how Christmas would be celebrated in the United States. He put together traditions that started thousands of years ago, united them with eight reindeer (a first), and brought the celebration of Christmas into the modern world. Christmas, you see, has always been more of a secular celebration – even though its roots grow deep into various religious beliefs.  And do I believe in Santa Claus? An empathic “YES” answers that question! I believe in the tinsel, the gift giving, the feast, and most importantly, the joy and fun that Christmas brings to everyone, no matter how it is celebrated.

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Worldbuilding 10 – Religion August 22, 2009

Posted by Yarnspnr in Worldbuilding.
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The Empire and Religion

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The Empire of Uppsala  has long ago decided that religion, in any form, tended to divide the human family rather than enrich it. They saw that for innumerable eons, both on Earth and in Erde, more wars had been fought over religious principles than for any other reason. They listed countless examples of man’s inhumanity towards man, all in the name of religion. They saw that conflict not only occurred between opposing systems of religious belief, but also within various sects of the same religion. This truth led the political leaders of the Empire to become disillusioned with religion, convincing them that it was both a waste of time and considerably dangerous. Consequently, for more than 3,000 years in the OutSider controlled Empire of Uppsala in Erde religion has been outlawed. It is one of the few laws in which governing rival Proctors have remained in agreement with throughout the Rejoinders. They found it easier to deal with underground religious activities than with open wars prompted by opposing factions trying to force their belief system or the supremacy of their god(s) upon the will of others.

The rehabilitation of newly discovered OutSiders within Erde has been a primary function of the government. A major part of that rehabilitation concerns the removal of religion from the minds and hearts of prospective new citizens. No man or woman who does not swear to recant their religious beliefs or who still shows signs of conformity to religious thought, is allowed to enter into the population at large.

Lach (Circle) – The Religion of the Vigroth Peoples

Spiritfolk

The basic premise of the Vigroth is that humans are juistid deskes, spiritual beings manifested into al erdid erdol, a physical world by a single creator in conjunction with other spirit beings. They see two sets of laws governing creation, Justid Nelg, Spiritual Law and Erdid Nelg, Physical Law. These laws work hand in hand. Without one or the other, the known world couldn’t exist. They also realize that humanity doesn’t know all the laws. New discoveries and better understanding of them can and are being learned. It is their belief that the blueprint of these two sets of laws can be viewed by studying nature, which they call hac Cogin Velkrar, the Great Teacher.

The Vigroth know nature on a personal basis. They know the Spiritual Law and Physical Law that hold together the Injelacin or Universe are flexible. Through their study of nature they have learned that these Universal Laws can be stroked when they are understood fully. That is, they can be bent in certain ways to alter known results to make an outcome more favorable. They understand there is nothing magical about these processes, they simply use one set of know laws against others to bring about a conclusion.

An example of this would be using the danger signals of bees guarding a hive to entice swarms to attack an enemy. Another example would be using the mind to box a headache into disappearing. In our world, cloud seeding might be one example, as well as Native Americans dancing and singing to bring rain. The cloud seeding brings about the bending of Physical Law through the use of another Physical Law. The rain dances bring about the bending of Physical Law through the use of Spiritual Law. The strength of repeated incantations of shaman and witches bend Physical Law and Spiritual Law in the same manner as repeated prayer. Many examples could be put forth. Magic? Not really. There are physical laws that make cloud seeding work. There are also spiritual laws that make rain dances work as well. They may not be understood as easily because they deal with Spiritual Law rather than Physical Law. We humans are more comfortable studying Physical Law. The study of Spiritual Law is not considered a science.

Through their understanding of nature the Vigroth can see hac Socloh, the Oneness of all creation. They are aware that all life is dependant on the death of other living things. It is for this reason, like many Native Americans, they refer to their beliefs as Circle. The Vigroth know that they must eat plants, animals, fish, and birds in order to survive. When they die, they will in turn nourish the ground, insects, birds, and animals. They have great respect for this Circle. Their focus is upon the importance of every single living thing to manifest an awareness of the living Juis or Spirit in Erde.

The Vigroth concept of Oneness is not about making all the varieties of life the same. Oneness suggests instead that people have the opportunity to view this rich diversity as an example of the multiple ways in which the Soc Juis, or One Spirit, tries to find expression in life. Whether that life is the life of a fish, bird, animal, insect, plant, or person. Since there is only one Creator, the Universe must be composed of only one Force. Oneness as a force implies that all things are interrelated. Every one of us has a connection to one another, the land, the universe, and to the Maker.

Lach is not a religion that is written in a holy book.  It is memorized and passed down from parents to children through a series of  TilgGutzin or FireSongs  These are repeated from birth until death at public meetings so all know and remember the workings of Circle.

weald