Keep Santa Out of School!!!

A blowhard on the local talk-radio station was making a big deal here in KC about how the Kansas Superintendent of schools is on the prowl for Santa in Schools.

It seems that some feel that Santa is a religious figure and does not belong in a public school.

I happen to agree; Santa Claus is inexorably linked to Christmas.

Can anyone explain how one might argue the other side? I can’t see it.

There is no denying that there is a secular Christmas, with Santa and not Christ at the head. Holiday sales were origionally Christmas sales, and even when stores don’t say it anymore its taken the trapings of ‘Christmas’. Really those trapings are exagerated or fabricated.

I know atheists who have more Christmas decoration than christians. They like the elves, santas, and so on. Its a materialistic holiday of food, folk and fun. The modern image of Santa is a creation of Coke. First appeared on Coke cans sometime in the 30s or 40s.

Santa isn’t a religious symbol. However enough mainstream Christians exist who have taken up the trapings of secular Christmas to keep the two together enough that its not like Halloween. There aren’t enough people celebrating Halloween, and doing it openly with its current secular aspects, to make it linked closely enough with a religion to have these sorts of problems.

I can see where people would argue there is a secular christmas and a relgious christmas. The problem is that mainstream christians blur the line, which keeps elements of secular christmas out of schools.

While I agree that there is definitely a secular Christmas and Santa Claus is about as religious as fried spam, I think that sdimbert is correct. If you’re ten years old and your family doesn’t celebrate Christmas because your family is Jewish or Muslim or Jehovah’s Witness and all your friends are talking about the stuff they’re getting as presents, and their tree, and their decorations, it’s just going to make you feel left out, jealous, and confused as to why your family is different. This is probably impossible to avoid, because kids are kids. *But the public schools have no place making their students feel like they are “abnormal”. * Some schools get around this by celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, and Solstice all together. The other option seems to be what the KC schools are doing, and personally, I applaud them for their effort.

Christmas is no longer a religous holiday- in fact, it was never a big Christian holiday in the 1st place- that’s Easter.

Santa, Rudolph, Frosty, the elves, are all part of the secular, non-religous Chistmas. Note, we also call it "Yule’, which is a pagan holiday, not to mention the various pagan trappings attached, plus a couple of Jewish ones. Where is Santa, Rudolph, frosty, the Elves & such in the Gospels? No-where. OK, you might be able to make a strech that santa was originally SAINT Nicholas- but not any more. Heck- elves are about as pagan as you can get- beleiveing in ELVES? That could get you burned some 500 years ago.

Folks of other faiths, such as the Jews, should get over the co-incidence that Christmas was at one time a Christian holiday- heck us Christians have got over the fact that it was once a Mitraic holiday, and before that Saturnalia. Now, true, I certainly agree, that that does mean ignoring the occasional religous trappings- but those should not be part of the sanctioned Holiday anyway (ie, no Nativity scenes on Governmant land- but also, get over it if it is not made a big deal of). So, celebrate yule- but as a secular winter solstice holiday. Let the kids know that a lot of faiths also celebrate a religous Holiday this time of year- but “we don’t celebrate this for any religous reasons”. Heck- its TRADITION ;j

Look, Thanksgiving was once a Christian Holiday- but now it is the American harvest fest.

Sanat, Christmas, and all it’s trappings, are an evil plot to sell you a bunch of crap. Resist! Resist, I say!

Sorry The Tim, that’s not true. Go straight to Snopes. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. It’s the third topic under Christmas legends.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled debate.

Commander Fortune has already pointed out that Snopes has an entry on this, but have you never heard the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” a.k.a. “The Night Before Christmas”? It describes Santa more or less as we know him today:

This was written when Abraham Lincoln was too young to vote.

Wouldn’t the phrase secular Christmas be an oxymoron? As a Jew, therefore secular to Christians, I hate Christmas.

The Modern Day Santa was originally drawn by Thomas Nast. He was inspired by the poem and drew Santa for Harpers.

I learned that from reading a Dennis the Menace Christmas Comic when I was about 8. Incredible what you remember, huh?

Anyway, I have some responses…

The Tim posted:

I disagree. Santa’s origins lie in the celebration of Christmas, a religious holiday. Daniel, it doesn’t matter whether Christians feel (as they did long ago) that Christmas is legitimately Christian, or (as some do today) that Christmas’s origins are Pagan… The holdiay is a religious one, created and celebrated by Christians who invented the character of Santa to add to their festivities.

Imagine explaining a secular Santa to a Martian. You’d tell him about the suit, the reindeer, the North Pole, the presents… eventually, wouldn’t he ask, “Why?”

Why does Santa do what he does? Because it’s a special day. Why is it a special day?..

Most holidays celebrated in schools (Christmas, St. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving) have religious origins or influences; the religion is left out and the decorations remain. Is fear of establishment of religion so profound that we must crush the smallest manifestation of fun regarding these holidays? adam, I’m sorry you feel hatred of Christmas – I have never felt that way about Chanukah or any other Jewish (or Muslim, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, etc.) holiday. Danielinthewolf, I think you’re mistaken about Christmas never being “a big Christian holiday”; I grant Easter is supposed to be tops, but Christmas was always right up there as a major festival. Kyla, yes, Jews, Muslims, and others might feel differently from Christian students. In my school, feelings were ameliorated by us goyim learning a little about Chanukah by spinning draidls and making paper menorahs. Kids who are religious minorities are going to, unavoidably, feel “abnormal”, as you say; I think if the holiday issue is compassionately handled in this manner, these pupils can be brought to feel a little less abnormal by addressing the issue rather than ignoring it, or simply reacting against it in a knee-jerk manner.

Frankly, as a Jew, I don’t see how saying “it’s actually a pagan holiday” makes Christmas more acceptable. We’ve been ignoring pagans far longer than we’ve been ignoring Christians.

Alright, I’ll make you a deal Daniel. Change the name of the holiday, and we’ll get over the coincidence. Call December 25th the “Great Big Winter Party Day,” to let it encompass Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Solstice, and the grooming of the IPU, if you like. It will be more historical, and everyone can celebrate their own part of the holiday. But don’t tell me that a holiday named “Christmas,” a word that contains the major figure of a religion emphatically not my own, is not really a religious holiday.

For what it’s worth, I do celebrate New Year’s Day (yes, twice) and Thanksgiving. They are no longer called whatever Thanksgiving used to be, or Mary’s Saint Day. I do not celebrate Christmas, Easter (yeesh,) St. Patrick’s Day, or St. Valentine’s Day. And I’m not trying to crush anyone’s fun, or necessarily remove anything from schools. But please do acknowledge that what many people call secular culture (Santa & his elves,) just isn’t.

I need to stop posting when I’m tired. I ment the artist rendering. I remember it from a book on the history of Coke.

I’ll agree Santas actions are religiously motivated, but I’ve heard the following explination (from a mall Santa, whom of course is thus all wise): “On Dec. 24 it is cold enough for the Reindeer to fly here. Most other days it doesn’t work well enough and so I couldn’t haul all the presents.” The little kid seemed to think the answer the most logical thing he’d ever heard.

I agree that the secular “great big winter party day” resembles Christmas to a great extent. I agree that that keeps the secular trappings out of the schools, which is what is legally required.

On a related note, does anyone know the average age that a child learns that Christmas is about Jesus’ birth and not presents? Also does anyone know the average age they stop believing in Santa?

I dunno. I’m agnostic and trying mightily to raise my son to be open-minded about religion until he’s old enough to make his own decisions. This is proving more difficult than I imagined, and I don’t need his public school making it harder - but you know, it hasn’t been the school that’s presented the problems. We celebrate Christmas, by the way.

I think you can go about this two ways: all or nothing. Either you can expose children to all of the year-end celebrations, or none. I prefer the former – what’s school for if not to learn about other cultures? I guess a lot of people have issues with promoting multiculturalism (I can’t figure out why though), but it seems to work for my kid. Like it or not, religion and religious celebrations are tightly bound to many secular celebrations (St. Valentine’s day anyone?) and unless we plan to make our schools no-holiday zones, we may as well deal with it the best we can: give an objective view of all religions and cultures, and let the kids and their parents decide from there. The only way to do this is through equal representation.

My son sang me the dreidel song the other day, and I think that rocks.

For the record, Chanukah is rarely the same day, or even week, as Christmas.

Can we assume, then, that if you were an atheist/agnostic, you would never say “goodbye”?

I don’t care whether Santa is in our schools or not, though I firmly believe that if a school wishes to teach about the traditions of some holidays, it should teach about the traditions of a lot of holidays – Christmas, Hannukah, Kwaanza, all of them. But I don’t think it makes sense to say that because a holiday started as a religious one, or has a name rooted in a religious term, that is once and forever a priori a religious holiday – any more than it makes sense that because a word is rooted in Early English for “god” it is automatically and forever a “religious” word.

Remind me not to say “God bless you” when you guys sneeze, lest I impose my religion upon you.

Even tho I am a Christian, I sent out “Holiday greetings” cards. (To me, the big Holy day is Easter).

Yes, there is a Christian Holiday there too. But there is also a big secular one, which happens to be on the same day. Don’t celebrate the Christian one- celebrate the Secular one. Don’t celebrate the Christian religous Thanksgiving- celebrate the National secular harvest feast. Don’t celebrate “All Hallows eve”- do “trick or treat day”. Hey, look- the early Christian fathers picked Solstice as their day, so that when anyone had a Holiday then- the Fathers could say everyone was celebrating THEIR faith- don’t let them win. :smiley:

I was wondering when this year’s first Secular vs. Religious Christmas thread would start.

Those interesting in mining last year’s threads for arguments on either side can find some of them at

P.S. for those not checking out these links, if you’re wondering where I stand on the issue- Go Danielinthewolvesden!

Thanks, nebuli- I appreciate the support. Nice links. We will likely do this every year, like clockwork. Beats doing work, tho!. :smiley: