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Santa IS White, But does it Really Matter?


December 16, 2013

The image of Santa Claus is merely an expression of the values imparted to children by parents. Black, pasty-white, yellow or olive, Santa Claus in all his jolly fatness is most importantly a reflection of our own morality.

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Mistletoe is poisonous. Some people find fruitcake disgusting. Glitter sticking to your skin is irritating. But the stupid argument over Santa’s race is the most annoying thing I’ve encountered so far this Christmas season.

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In tradition and lore, Santa IS white, beginning with Saint Nikolaos in Medieval Russia sometime during the 3rd and 4th Centuries. The legends of St. Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, and Santa Claus come primarily from Northern European cultures; yes, the land of the midnight sun and pasty-white peoples. Santa Claus hitched his sleigh onto the wagon of westernization as it advanced throughout the world. As countries across the globe adopted Western forms of government, economic systems, and culture, they adopted Santa Claus as well. Needless to say, Santa evolves within cultures to fit the image to which parents and and children are most acclimated. This a healthy expression of national identity, and it indicates a measure of freedom. So you can see why the stupid argument over Santa’s race is so annoying.  But making this non-issue into a federal case is destructive, because the argument over Santa’s race both perpetuates, and is a symptom of, racial division in America.

Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor, has been lambasted by shallow leftists for declaring last week that Santa and Jesus are both white. But she’s right. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Eternal God, comes from a Hebrew lineage, so at the very darkest he would have had an olive-complexion, not unlike modern peoples of the Mediterranean. Santa Claus, originating in Northern Europe and rolling into the rest of the world on the heels of democracy and capitalism, is usually depicted as white. But when it comes to Santa, it really doesn’t matter. He’s a symbol of something larger, something that transcends commercialism, tradition, and race.

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Santa Claus is an idea, the glorious embodiment of generosity, kindness, nurturing, and hope. Santa Claus is the culmination of all things innocent and hopeful a child can experience. Santa brings comfort, peace and wonderment to little minds. Santa also represents a set of standards–though rarely adhered to–wherein children are expected to be “good” for 365 days, so that the most exciting night of the year is not a disappointment. Well administered by thoughtful parents, the idea of Santa bringing gifts to virtuous boys and girls, reinforces societal expectations of responsibility, civility, and hard word. The image of Santa Claus is merely an expression of the values imparted to children by parents. Black, pasty-white, yellow or olive, Santa Claus in all his jolly fatness is most importantly a reflection of our own morality.

Making Santa a race-issue doesn’t simply divide people into groups. If children in homes are taught that the cultural presentation of Santa Claus is a racist image, they will associate feelings of alienation and victimization to what should be the most joyous celebration of the year.

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This argument began with an essay written by black writer, Alisha Harris, who opined that “White Santa” causes feelings of inferiority in black children, and should be more “inclusive,” perhaps in the form of a penguin. But exclusivity only becomes a problem when one focuses on Santa’s surface qualities; his race, his girth, his red faux-fur jumpsuit. Liberals tend to perseverate on the superficial, labeling differences in appearance, class, or gender as “unjust” or “unequal.” This discounts the opportunity to teach that Santa is not about skin color, but content of character.

If parents are bringing children up to feel insecure or angry when things don’t fit a perfect racial paradigm, it is the children who suffer. The race-based narrative, not Santa or his color, is to blame for a sense of exclusion in some. Children feel safe and secure when they understand that they will create their identities and define their lives by their thoughts and actions; things over which they have control. Kids will feel lost, victimized, and angry if they believe that superficial inequalities between people somehow limit their potential and force them into failure.

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Santa is not about color, or fatness, or appearance. He is about generosity of spirit, kindness, hope, and the Spirit of Christ.

by Marjorie Haun  12/16/13

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