Introducing the Real Santa Claus

In December, I plan to take dead aim at some of the myths that surround the Christmas story. I’m not talking about the rosy-cheeked, red-suited, white-bearded jolly man we call Santa Claus nor about Christmas trees or elfs. I’m rather speaking of what goes into nativity scenes and movies that are assumed to be in the Gospel story . . . but which aren’t.

Today, however, I want to make you aware of a new book that explores the historical person behind the Santa Claus myth. In The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus, historian Adam English weaves together a compelling narrative of Saint Nicholas, the 4th century bishop of Myra.

The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra

English does a fine job sketching out the historical evidence for this somewhat familiar person. And some of it is fascinating. He also interacts with some of the other biographies on Nicholas, showing where they fall short.

Aside from some pretty admirable character traits, Nicholas was involved in the Council of Nicaea and the destruction of the temple to Artemis in Myra. I plead ignorance to all of this. So the book was informative for me as well as an interesting read. It’s also based on good scholarship, yet it’s highly readable.

If you’re someone who has a penchant for learning history, and you’ve wondered if anything historical stands behind the Santa Claus legend, this is probably the best book you’ll find on the subject.

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  • Greg

    It is hard to reject Santa, as he is so prevalent here in the U.S. Something I started that seems to be working well is letting the children know that there is a secret about Santa. If they think they know what it is, they can come ask me in private. The secret is that there is no Santa, and that mom and dad are really “Santa”. I read this idea on another blog and thought it was a great blend of not rejecting nor fully embracing Santa. Obviously, the goal is to have fun, let the children use their God-given imaginations, but ultimately keep this season and every day of the year about Jesus.

  • Frank Viola

    Right back at ya!

  • Dan English

    Totally resonate with you Kelly.
    We have 2 kids as well (7 and 4), and have approached Christmas from a “historical” foundation when it comes to Santa. As much as we can be confident in our decision as parents to opt out of “leading our kids to believe in the mythical character of Santa”, one of the things that has been difficult is to watch our children carry the “burden” of not telling their friends who do believe in Santa.
    Anyway, looking forward to participating in the blogs to come, Frank. Appreciate you.


  • Kelly J Youngblood

    Veggie Tales has a St. Nicholas video ;)
    Seriously though, this sounds like a good book. I really struggle with what to do about Santa at Christmas because I have 2 young kids. I don’t particularly want to do it, and so far we’ve avoided it but it’s just going to get more difficult.
    A couple of years ago I made some information sheets about Christmas to put out on the tables at a Christmas party for a mothers group I attended. I don’t think they were much appreciated as nobody took them home ;)

  • Sally Roach

    This sounds very interesting. Maybe a movie could be made from this book instead of all the silly mish mash, yet often fun stuff we usually get from Hollywood.