A look at student encounters with jolly old Saint Nick
From the prancing and dancing reindeer to the working elves in the North Pole, the story of Santa Claus has been told for hundreds of years.
While the variations of the stories told may be slightly different, the general belief of Santa Claus among children is widely universal–at least for a while.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the legend of Santa Claus began with Saint Nicholas, a saint from the fourth century. Saint Nicholas became well-known for his generosity and kindness. The legends of the many miracles he performed for the poor and unhappy developed and grew. Thousands of European churches were dedicated to him. His legend persisted as Sinterklaas (a Dutch variant of the name Saint Nicholas).
Dutch colonists took the tradition of Sinterklaas with them to the American colonies in the 17th century. Sinterklaas was adopted by America’s English-speaking majority under the name Santa Claus, and the legend of a kindly, bearded old man was incorporated into old Nordic folktales of a magician who punished naughty children and rewarded good children with presents.
“I was told that Santa came down the chimney and came with the reindeer and brought you coal if you were bad and presents if you were good,” said Courtney Morgan, a senior creative writing major.
During the early years of most children’s lives, it is common to believe that Santa Claus travels via sleigh powered by reindeer to every house on Earth in one night to deliver presents to all the good children. Eventually, however, someone or something spills the beans.
“I started to recognize my mom’s handwriting on the cards on the presents,” said Jeff Kosta, a graduate student studying environmental engineering.
Some children stay awake all night in hopes of seeing the real Santa Claus busy at work. The tradition of leaving out milk and cookies for Santa has taken place in many houses as well.
“In third grade I found my present that I was going to get for Christmas in my mom’s car,” said Alecia Vallejos, a freshman integrative physiology major.
To many people, Christmas is their favorite time of the year because it is centered around gift-giving, parties and feasting. The spirit of Christmas causes people to decorate their homes and churches with trees and tinsel and exchange gifts with family and friends. The aspect of giving is the only part of Christmas that ties Santa Claus into the holiday. The origin of Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, as written about in the Bible.
“Christmas is one of those holidays where it’s just nice to get together with your family, but then everyone is just buying ridiculous stuff that they don’t need, and it just puts a weird twist on the holiday,” Kosta said.
Santa and his reindeer have been reigning symbols of Christmas for years and perhaps will be forever. Whether or not Santa Claus should be a symbol of Christmas does not stop children from believing.
“I think it’s important kids believe in all that stuff, that they have that imaginary side,” Morgan said.