Friday, December 25, 2009

Santa on Christmas Eve

Santa Claus also known as Saint Nicholas or Father Christmas
Santa, originally uploaded by kooler007.

Santa Claus is a legendary figure who brings gifts for children in the evening and late hours of Christmas Eve on December 24 every year. The loving Santa is believed to be Saint Nicholas or Sinterklaas, also known as Father Christmas, Kris Kringle or simply Santa in many cultures, and some others believe that he brings gifts and happiness on Saint Nicholas Day, his Feast Day on December 6. The legend may be based on customary tales about the historical figure of the gift-giver Saint Nicholas. From the Greek and the old Byzantine empires’ folklores to Basil of Caesarea also have similar legends and tales of the loving gift-giver. Based on this tradition, the Basil's feast day on January 1 is celebrated as the occasion of exchanging gifts in Greece.

Another legend on Santa Claus has it that he lives in the in the land of snow, in the far north, geographically in the snowbound areas around the North Pole. Perhaps, based on this assumption, the American version of the legends of Santa Claus says that he lives at his house on the North Pole, while Father Christmas is often said to reside in the mountains of Korvatunturi in Lapland Province of Finland. Santa Claus lives happily forever with his wife Mrs. Claus, numerous elves with magical powers, and eight or nine flying reindeers.

Children may take note of another legend of Santa according to which he watches over the behaviour of children throughout the year and classifies them in two categories; nice children and naughty children. Based on his list of nicely behaving children, he presents all of the good boys and girls in the world with nice gifts including toys, candy, toffees and other gifts. The naughty children are given coal or other worthless things. Without fail, he visits all children’s homes in the world on the night of Christmas Eve with their gifts. He is helped in accomplishing this enormous feat by fairies and elves that make the toys in the gift factory of Santa and the reindeers that pull his sleigh and carts to transport the toys and other gifts to various parts of the world where the children’s homes are located.

The original portraits and paintings of Saint Nicholas show him wearing the customary dresses of bishops. But from the 19th century onwards, Santa Claus has been portrayed as a plump or fat and round figure, always happy and smiling, with a snow white beard, wearing a red coat or cloak with white collar and cuffs, red trousers with white cuffs and a black leather belt and black boots. This year, during the Copenhagen summit on climate change, and as an effort of activists campaigning against global warming, there were many caricatures of Santa Claus appearing in the media including Internet with green replacing the legendary red color in Santa’s apparels.

According to many religious and other authorities on the customs and religions, criticisms have come up on teaching children believing in Santa Claus. Some critics feel that the Santa Claus tradition is against the origins and purpose of celebrating Christmas, while others propagate that the character of Santa Claus is a lie and parents should not teach their children to believe in the existence of Santa Claus. Yet another criticism is that Santa Claus is the result of campaigns to commercialize Christmas holidays and to sell large quantities of merchandise related to the Santa tradition. Some other criticisms are based on the assumption that children are deliberately misled by their elders to believe in superstitious, unscientific and baseless stories.

Whatever the criticisms against Santa are, whatever may be the truth about the legend of Santa Claus, I love him simply because he is a symbol of love, affection, happiness, sharing and good behaviour. He is far better than others who spread rumors based on faiths and customs and instigate people to hate others, and try to instigate crimes against humanity. Rather than the basis of a belief, we should see if it brings happiness and peaceful living conditions for all the people of the world! Now, go ahead and enjoy celebrating Christmas, New Year and all other seasonal festivals and celebrations!

Merry Christmas


Happy New Year

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