Santa’s Coming Down the Chimney: Meaning of Santa Claus to Teens

As the weather cools, the lights get strung, the cookies get baked, more timber gets deforested, and the realization hits that we have no gifts to give; we know it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and along with it comes the holiday folklore.

During the season, different wives tales and myths become prevalent. The western legend of Santa Claus (aka Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, or simply Santa) may constitute the entirety of Christmastime for some individuals, for over 85 percent of young American children have belief in Santa. The modern retelling of the myth stems from the first time the anglicized name of Santa Claus appeared in a 1773 New York City newspaper, although the iconic pop culture icon we know today was crafted by the Coca-Cola company.

“If you don’t [believe in Santa] it ruins the magic,” senior Paige Blackman said. “It is apart of the Christmas spirit. It makes Christmas better, more happy.”

The myth of Santa speaks of a flight on the eve of Christmas night, strung along the sky by eight reindeer. These reindeer are known as Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Donner, Cupid, Blitzen, Vixen, and Comet. These reindeer endeavor to children the so-called “magic” of Christmas. 

“[Didn’t believe in Santa anymore] because one Christmas when I was really little,” sophomore Jenna Hodgen said. “I got a book from Santa Claus and my parents left the receipt in it and it had Julie Hodgsen’s [her mother] name on it.”

Santa as described by the infamous poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” illustrates a white-haired old man with rosy cheeks, a fur-lined ensemble, and a belly that shook “like a bowlful of jelly.” However merry his appearance may seem, surveys show that only 25 percent of children ages eight and above, believe in him.

“No, I don’t [believe in Santa] because let me tell you why,” junior Angie Silva said. “Because my bratty cousins would always get gifts from Santa, but not me. I was more well behaved than they were. So, yeah, and then even get presents from Jesus.”

He was, in some way, a real person. The real St. Nicholas was born around the year 270 and was notable as the Bishop of Myra, a town in Turkey. He was known as an anonymous gift giver and paid the dowries of poor girls and gifted presents to children, which he often left in their shoes (i.e. an origin story of the stockings above the fire tradition). 

“I mean, I didn’t I didn’t really care that much,” Hodgens said. “One would think that one would feel betrayed by their parents, but I just didn’t really care. I still have to pretend that he’s real because I have little siblings.”

Christmas contains a unique genre of music unto itself. “Up On The Housetop” was the first Christmastide song to speak of Santa. It was written in 1864 by Benjamin Hanby and was inspired by the poem aforementioned, “A Visit from Saint Nicholas.” Another commonplace song, Jingle Bells, was in fact written for Thanksgiving and not Christmas.

“I love the feeling it gives me,” senior Abby Michener said. “It makes me feel warm and reminds me of how I will get gifts.”

Santa, for many, illustrates a hallmark of western winter traditions, a jolly, white-bearded man that promises gifts in exchange for kindness and obedience proves helpful for parents and kids alike.

“Really, really added to my childhood,” senior Ryan Mccartney said. “I like the ability of the false profit type mentality, where you really thought that like everything was good, you know what I mean? Like, oh, Santa will come through and stuff like that. I thought that was really some real good propaganda.”

By Ethan Everman, Staff Writer

Featured photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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