The first news item deals with an Australian substitute teacher who told her primary school class that Santa Claus did not exist. This was a public school, and though no formal rules existed there were guidelines for teachers to follow revolving around Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Parents were outraged and though the teacher was not disciplined, she was counseled.
The second news item deals with the town of Kensington in the state of Maryland. A few residents asked, based on religious grounds, that Santa not be included in the annual tree-lighting ceremony. At first the town council acquiesced but later, after a larger backlash, Santa did participate, causing a few scuffles to breakout among townsfolk - some decked out in full Santa regalia.
"Santa is a tradition in our town and across the country," Mayor Kitty Raufaste said. "At least for me he doesn't have any religious significance."
So, is Santa a religious figure or an economic figure? To be fair I didn't really know the origins of Santa, but a google search never fails to turn up the goodies.
Santa seems to be a melting pot of a number of beliefs, traditions and cultures. But my sense at the end of my reading was that Santa may at one point have been religious in nature, but had been co-opted by economics. However, upon reaching this conclusion I had to rebut myself by noting that people of other faiths had no real bond with Santa - indeed would have to suffer his Ho-Ho-Ho (quietly if you're in New Zealand) for nearly two months.
Yes two months, decorations and the like now seem to appear right after Halloween - since Thanksgiving is a loser holiday economically except for travel, food and beverage industries. Santas spring up at Malls earlier and earlier, heralding the economic boom businesses bank on each year. Think of Santa as the brand name for Christmas.
Further noodling about made me fully realize that even some Christians aren't in love with big red guy thinking that he's upstaging Jesus and obscuring the true meaning of the holiday. This particular Lutheran Pastor wishes to separate Santa from Christmas, moving Santa to December 6th instead.
Still others seem to think Santa is just a thinly veiled ruse for none other then ...Satan.
In the end, I come down to this:
Santa isn't real.
Santa is a tradition that many kids world-wide grow up loving.
Santa is not religious but is tied to a religious holiday.
Santa is religious because it is tied to a religious holiday.
Santa is a capitalist idol.
Santa is not Satan.
Santa should be taken in moderation and without such seriousness.
So what of the Australian teacher? Well, I wouldn't have burst the bubble for a bunch of kids and I might even be upset if it were my own kid but ... what can you really do? She's telling the truth.
And the town of Kensington, well this is a place where the county council 'voted to impose fines of up to $750 on smokers in private residences if their smoke-rings crossed private property lines and bothered neighbors. The county executive eventually vetoed the measure.'
Perhaps if coal was handed out to the naughty things would be different.