To raise your kids believing in Santa or not?


I am wondering how many parents raise their kids telling them about santa claus? My parents told me about Santa and I wasn’t angry with them when I got older, but there are some people that tell me it is like lying to your children. My Hubby and I see nothing wrong with Santa, but some level headed opinions would be nice as well as advice on how to balance Santa with the Catholic faith.


I will raise my children to know about believe St. Nicholas of Myra, but not Santa Claus as we know him today. I also hope to raise my kids without knowing the Christmas Holiday as we know it now. :)


My opinion is not very level-headed; I am am completely opposed to lying to children. Tell them about St. Nicholas, and tell them that the Santa Claus story is a a nice story, but it’s just a story, like Alice in Wonderland.

(Full disclosure: we have all the Santa Clause movies, and several others in which the Jolly Old Elf appears.)



My kids grew up celebrating Christmas as Jesus birthday, Ressurection day, and fall harvest…they eventually learned who santa and the easter bunny were.They got treats…They turned out well adjusted…Ones a teacher ones a research tech and one has a civil eng degree…


Santa is magic. Kids learn the deeper meanings of things later. This is true for all kinds of things. We are not totally honest with our children on lots of things. How babies are made is one of them. We usually tell them “God put the baby there.” True, but not all together true. Santa exists but in a different way when they get older. Meanwhile, how can we not love the magic of 4 year olds glowing with expectation, lights, and presents (we gave some to Jesus too and we bought that Santa kneeling before the baby Jesus).


:thumbsup: A great question!!! My children have always been brought up that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth and I had to get creative to explain who Santa was when my kids saw him in the mall. I told them them the story about St. Nicholas - “Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.”

I told them that Jesus sent “Santa” down to earth to remind children that Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth and that the gifts from “Santa” were really gifts from Jesus because Jesus wanted to reward my children for the “good works” that they had performed during the year. I know that it is wrong to lie to children, but in the spur of the moment what is a mom to do? And since my oldest child is now old enough to tell the story that I told him, he has now told his sisters and thus my little “white lie” is continued as family tradition.

I found this poem on-line that seems to explain St. Nicholas and Santa Claus quite well.

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.

—J. Rosenthal & C. Myers

My children and I have been working on becoming more like St. Nicholas - although times have been financially tough for my family and often we do not have enough money to purchase all of our present needs, we are still to give from the little that we have to others, who have even less.

My children’s school has an Advent project called the “giving tree” each year. The children do various chores around the house and earn money from their parents for doing them. The money in turn, does not get to be kept by the student, but is given to the school. The school uses the money to brighten the Christmases of people in the community who may be having a hard time of it. Every time a child brings in their “earnings” their name is put on a paper “Christmas Ornament” and hung on the tree in the centre of the school. My children loved seeing their name put on an ornament, knowing that they were helping someone in need… and they also forgot for a few moments about the things that they may not have and were happy for the things that they have been blessed with.


Warning–Spoiler! Keep children and children-at-heart away from this post!

From the very beginning, we told our children that at Christmas time, we pretend that there is a Santa Claus and that he lives at the North Pole and brings toys, etc.

The key phrase was “we pretend.” Every time we talked about Santa, we said, “We pretend…”

The girls grew up pretending that there is a Santa Claus. It was fun. We did the whole spiel! The cookies and 7 Up (for his upset stomach from eating so many cookies), the reindeer poop, the stockings, the gifts signed “from Santa,” the visits to Santa at the various malls. We even included Santa in our church’s Christmas pageant! (Protestant) He walked down the aisle after all the others walked down the aisle–the angels, the shepherds, the wise guys, the animals, the Drummer Boy, the bird, the Easter Bunny (yes, he was in our pageant, too!), the Lion and the Lamb holding hands, of course, and finally, at the very end, Santa Claus–and he knelt in front of the manger and paid homage to Jesus. We had a good pageant!

I don’t think pretending took anything away from the celebration of Jesus’ birthday and I don’t think it made Santa Claus any less exciting. After all, children are really good at pretending. And what’s wonderful is that they can keep pretending even after they grow up! To this day, we all pretend–we don’t do the reindeer poop anymore, but we still set out the cookies and 7 Up. And we still get gifts “from Santa.”

When they got older, we told them about St. Nicholas (even though we weren’t Catholic), and that this is why people started pretending that there is a Santa Claus–to honor St. Nicholas. But we didn’t know much about St. Nicholas as Protestants, and there wasn’t an internet to look him up on back then.

The nice thing about this approach is that it was totally truthful, and it still allowed them to have a great time with the jolly old elf himself! They weren’t “pariahs” at school who had to be kept away from other children because they might upset them with pronouncements that “there’s no such thing as Santa,” or worse, “Santa is Satan with the letters re-arranged.”


I remember when I was a kid.... The concept of Santa gave me such joy... why ever neglect a child from it:shrug:


My son felt betrayed when he went to school one day, the other children told him there was no Santa & when he got home he asked. We told him the truth & then he wanted to know about the easter bunny & tooth fairy. It was not pretty - I would never do it again. I am sure he is one in a million as it never bothered myself or anyone else I know of but he felt like we had lied to him & he was right, we did.


I still remember how I felt when I was 7 and my mom told me not to tell my little sister that there isn't a Santa Claus. I didn't know, but she thought that I did. :(

So, what I have done with my kids is tell them about St. Nicholas. We watched the movie Nicholas, the Boy who became Santa.

Nicholas: The Boy Who Became Santa

Based on historical facts and traditions, "Nicholas, The Boy Who Became Santa" is the beautifully animated film worth watching all year long. Nicholas was still a young child when he discovered a very special secret that changed his life forever. It was the gift of giving, by which he brought happiness to many people; but in sharing this great gift Nicholas had to face many dangers. Here is the fascinating story of the boy who's love and care for others make him one of the most popular figures of all time. Today, more than 16 centuries later, the entire world celebrates the kindness and generosity of the man we call Santa Claus.

Ages 3 to 7
30 min.

It is a really good cartoon that shows him from a boy and how he became known for his giving and how people around the world have carried on his spirit of giving because of his love for and our love for Jesus. It even shows a "santa" going up to a creche and kneeling down in front of the baby Jesus.

We talked about how mom and dad carry on that spirit. So, when we are at the store and I have to find out what they want for Christmas, I will ask what they want "santa" to bring them. They know that it is us, but they play along. That way they get to enjoy the fun of Santa without us having to worry about when the shoe will drop with someone telling them that he is not real. That actually happened once, and my kids immediately told them that he was so real. He was St. Nicholas!


When we were growing up, we celebrated something like “parallel Christmases”. We were in Catholic school, had an advent wreath on the dinner table, opened the little doors on the advent calendar, sang in the Christmas program, were angels/shephards in the nativity play and wrote essays on the life of St. Nicholas. My Dad even made the nativity scene in our front yard in his workshop. We knew exactly what Christmas was and why we were celebrating it. That however did not stop my parents from getting involved in the whole Santa thing either. We had a tree and presents from Santa (my mom even bought special wrapping paper) and my Grandmother baked cookies and other goodies that we only had at Chiristmas. We grew up knowing the difference between Chirstmas, the birth of Jesus and Chiristmas, gifts under the tree. Your kids can figure that out too.


A breif prayer:

Dear God, we love and worship You, as we rightly should!

We are all Catholic brothers and sisters, brought together this season of Advent to celebrate the birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, and anxiously await His return.

May all of us, those who celebrate by telling our children about Santa Claus and those who do not, remember that we are to love each other, to live in peace with each other, and to respect each other. May all of us see Christ in each other, and respect each other’s choices in the raising of the next generation of Christians. And please bless us and grant us a beautiful, peaceful Adevent and Christmas!


Having said that -

A lot of non-Christians in my group of friends abuse Santa Claus, turning him into a quasi-deity. I have several Pagan friends who don’t teach their children anything about God at all, not even their version of the “horned god and earth goddess,” or what have you. I think abusing Santa is going too far, and sometimes you have to pull back and make sure your kids aren’t being pushed too far into the fantasy.

On the other hand, I think most kids know instinctively that Santa and the Easter Bunny aren’t real. I think it all depends on the sensitivity of the child you’re dealing with, how you treat the Santa story in your house.


My brother and I were told as small children that Santa wasn’t a real person but that he was the spirit of giving. Then we went on to pretend that he was real. Our parents didn’t lie to us, yet we still did all the Santa stuff cause it was fun. I always left graham cracker and peanut butter sandwichs and a big glass of milk for Santa.

My dh and I did the same with our kids although they stopped leaving treats for Santa early on. It may have been my practice of taking them to Midnight Mass. They were too tired when we got home. No early Christmas mornings for us, they slept in till at least 7, not the 4am my brother and I used to subject our parents to. :smiley:

When kids are faced with a myriad of Santa’s at all the shopping malls and street corners, you almost have to address it when they are very young and they ask why there are so many Santas.


I`ll say till about 8 or 9, you should tell them that there is no Santa. So that way your children will have some childhood believe in Santa. :slight_smile: If they do get angry over Santa not being real, then it is their fault that they get angry. Just tell them, at a young age, that the season is really about Jesus being Born and not about the birth of Santa.


When I was going to Catholic School and growing up we were always taught that Santa Claus was St. Nicholas. We just thought that somehow St. Nicholas moved to the North Pole or something.

Remember that Clement Moore’s poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas (sometimes known as The Night Before Christmas) had a big influence on our modern ideas about Santa Claus. But he’s always referred to as St. Nicholas in the poem, never Santa Claus.

I guess it was the problem of why Santa came on December 6th in some places and on Christmas in others that got me wondering if Santa really traveled the world on a sleigh.

Fortunately, since I always knew Santa and St. Nick were the same I never had to stop believing in Santa Claus. I just had to modify what I knew about Santa Claus. (Hey, I figure Santa did better than St. Christopher. At least his feast day is still on the calendar.) The real disappointment was learning the truth about Rudolph.

My children always knew that Santa = St. Nick. I made a big point of telling them that Santa Claus was just how you said St. Nicholas in another language. When my kids were little we made a big deal of the meanings of their names and how some names are really the same, like John and Sean; or Maria and Mary; or Jesus and Joshua, or Isabel and Elizabeth. So it was no big deal to know that Claus was Nicholas.


Santa all the way here!


My wife and I do not plan on playing the Santa game with our children.

However, I am very intrigued by the poster that said they use the words "we pretend" when they mention Santa. That sounds like a great idea.


Santa is real at our house... not because we've "pushed" the story on them, but because they are aware of the greater public and we aren't the type of people who shy away from the greater culture, but rather embrace it and live IN the world, but not OF the world.

I grew up knowing Santa - I don't ever remember being traumatized when I learned "the truth"... but to this day I still get presents beneath my parents tree that are from "Santa" (so weird he has the SAME handwriting as my dad! :p)

My oldest son learned "the truth" this year, but he knows that we are to protect the hearts of his younger siblings and friends at school - he still talks about Santa and then winks at me... :)

I think if a child is truly traumatized by "the truth" then it wasn't shared in the RIGHT way.

It's okay to enjoy this time of year in all aspects... but the MAIN FOCUS has to be Christ - ALWAYS!


[quote="Bailey2, post:5, topic:179135"]
Santa is magic. Kids learn the deeper meanings of things later. This is true for all kinds of things. We are not totally honest with our children on lots of things. How babies are made is one of them. We usually tell them "God put the baby there." True, but not all together true. Santa exists but in a different way when they get older. Meanwhile, how can we not love the magic of 4 year olds glowing with expectation, lights, and presents (we gave some to Jesus too and we bought that Santa kneeling before the baby Jesus).


Me too, I had to have the "sex talk" with my 11 year old this past week and even though I spoke to her in the most honest reasons as to NO HAVE SEX I didn't go into details about how sex actually happens... I did what my parent's didn't do for me which was to bring GOD's reason for sex, and the purpose of sex in GOD's way, not our way...I didn't give picturesque views of how to have sex or anything like that, kept it more concentrating on GOD's purpose for sex and the need to be married before sex... because in January 6th graders get the sex talk in school! I decided this year to beat them because last year without my permission they told her about virginity and maturing!!! :( It was hard to explain after words...she was in shock for weeks! This way it teaches her about the innocence of marriage, and sex and the reasons for it as well as the love that GOD has for us and how it must be followed...

And Santa St Nich and the Spirit of sharing with those in need in Jesus' name is the main reason for Christmas, celebrating Jesus' birth...Santa is just an addition to the giving in Christmas...They believe in Santa, and until they are a little more mature I will explain a further detail about St Nich, just like next year when they go into further details about sex she will be at least a few months more mature and might not take it so hard...Until then I let the magic continue and live on, they are innocent kids...and I think it's fine..I grew up believing in Santa now as a grown up I am trying to bring GOD into everything we do with a better understanding of GOD in our lives...Santa is not interfering with GOD in our lives...He just adds more to the innocence...


My husband and I both had bad experiences when we were young and found out Santa wasn't real, so, we did not want that for our children.
We celebrated Chistmas as the birthday of Jesus, and since Jesus was God's greatest gift to us, we celebrated it as a Great Giftgiving Day. We have 7 children and told them that Santa was the spirit of giving and that some children believed he was real and it was our gift to them that we did not tell them he was not real but left that for their families to do. Of course there was a lot more to it than that, but that is a quick over view of it.

Our children have always been very excied about Christmas and our Great Giftgiving Day lives on.

God Bless

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