Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I Don't Know What To Tell You, Virginia

On his terrific blog (which I freely admit I often struggle to follow), Thomistic philsopher Edward Feser argues that it is wrong to tell children Santa Claus exists. Interestingly, the first comment on the post (not by me, but by someone by the name RP) quotes Chesterton to this effect: "Personally, of course, I believe in Santa Claus; but it is the season of forgiveness, and I will forgive others for not doing so." (GKC)

It seems plain from this, and from the passage I quoted in this post (I'm sure many others could be found) that Chesterton approved of parents passing on the Santa Claus story, or at least did not frown on them for so doing.

Not that I would presume to argue with Edward Feser, and rationally I cannot mount a defence of the practice myself, especially since Feser insists it has been condemned by manualists and Catholic authorities. But it seems a pity to me.


  1. When I was a kid we didn't have Santa Claus in Italy. Gifts were brought by the Befana, an old ugly lady, on the eve of the feast of the Epiphany.
    I can clearly remember when I ask my mum how could the Befana come into our house if we had no chimney. She reply that the Befana didn't exist. That was the biggest trauma of my young life and the end of my childhood.
    I'm not totally convinced by Feser but I'd tell my children that Jesus, and nobody else, brings gifts to children and to the whole humanity.

    I still believe in Santa Claus. :)

  2. As far as I can remember, I stopped believing in Santa Claus on Christmas Day 1985, while watching Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. I was seven. Could it get more ironic?!? I can't remember feeling upset, though.

    I had never heard of the Befana! I thought Santa was the norm all over the Western world.

    I'm very reluctant to give up Santa...

  3. My Grandfather made an atheist of me from age 7-14, when he told me that Father Christmas was a silly story, like religion, made up to help control other people.

    Thank God I recovered. I told my children that Father Christmas was just a story, NOT like Catholicism. I didn't want my problems repeated.

  4. The Befana tradition goes back to ancient Rome:

  5. It's not fair...Italian children get sweet "coal" for being naughty!!!

  6. We used to make La Befana dolls when I was little with shriveled apple heads...wait...not everyone did that?! :)