Monday, December 20, 2010

Santa as Christian Boogeyman

Driving around yesterday listening to Christmas music I actually listened closely to the lyrics of a song I've heard for years: "Here Comes Santa Claus." This little ditty includes lines like:
"Get in bed and cover your head, for Santa Claus is coming tonight."
"Say your prayers because Santa Claus comes tonight."

Does this strike anyone else as more than a little creepy? Is this jolly Saint Nick we're talking about here, or an axe murderer?

That got me thinking about the real Saint Nicholas, bishop of Myra in the 300's. Aside from his reputed generosity, history tells us he was a staunch defender of Christian orthodoxy, especially the article of the Trinity. Arius was the heretic du jour then, arguing that the Son was not equal to the Father. Legend has it that Nicholas was quite agitated by this. So agitated was he, that one tale has it that Nicholas went to the ecumenical Council of Nicea and was so incensed by Arius' assault on the trinitarian nature of God he crossed the room and slapped him in the face. (This is apocryphal, of course. There are pretty decent records of the Nicean Council and none of them indicate this happening.)

But this gets me thinking. If we're going to make Santa Claus into some kind of boogeyman, instead of telling kids they should be good or Santa won't bring them presents, why don't we tell them they should watch their doctrine closely or Santa will punch them in the face?

I'm going to run this by Driscoll and see if this duding up of Santa qualifies as redeeming him. ;-)


Jason said...

Here comes Santa Claus
Here comes Santa Claus
To punch you right in your face!
Your mocked our Lord
Said He wasn't equal so
We'll make your cheek red agaaaaain...

Jared said...

Jason, that has a nice ring to it. Just needs more cowbell.

Jared said...

Oh, and unless it wasn't obvious, this post is an attempt at humor. I don't honestly think we should tell kids Santa is going to assault them for heresy.

I feel weird having to point that out, but then, I've been blogging long enough to know not to underestimate some readers' ability to freak out.

Elizabeth R said...

Well, if you really think about it, the whole "He sees you when you're sleeping" thing is kinda creepy. Santa is stalking me! :o

Jon said...

This year, keep the Krampus in Khristmas.

nhe said... need to clarify for me - I was with you - hilarious!...

...especially the "duding up Santa Claus" for Driscoll.

Roberta said...

Do you love someone enough to slap them in the face?!

Shauna said...

I understand why other parents play the "Santa game" with their kids and support their right to celebrate Christmas in any way they see fit. But the tradition of parents using Santa (or The Elf on the Shelf) as a sort of bad cop to get kids to behave has always struck me as incredibly manipulative--not to mention dishonest.

Gabe said...

Santa needs to be reformed from his works based righteousness ways. Seriously? A naughty and nice list?

The John Calvin Santa would have nothing but a naughty list. A burning lump of coal for everybody.

Andrew said...

Brings a whole new meaning of "laying on of hands".

Si Hollett said...

Santa-of-the-songs is a pretty scary chap:

"You better watch out..."
"He's making a list,
He's checking it twice,
He's gonna find out
who's naughty or nice."
"He sees you when you're sleeping.
He knows when you're awake.
He knows if you've been bad or good,
so be good for goodness sake"
Let's look at what this is actually saying - warnings to look out for him (or is that beginning a threat?), no gifts for the naughty, keeps a list of wrongs (and OCD double-checks it) and doesn't actually give gifts, but payments for being nice/bribes to be nice - and made by slaves by magic, so it doesn't really cost him anything but a night to go around the world delivering them. And then there's the Big Brother nature of constantly watching you, so you'd better behave or you go on the naughty list...

...He's the 'god' that Hitchens, et al rightly hate.

Santa-of-the-songs is the total opposite of the true meaning of Christmas, where a gift, a very costly gift, came to the undeserving from the God who, while he knows when you're awake, is waiting for you to trip up and do something naughty and put you on the naughty list, but watches over you out of love.

Phil W said...

Santa as CIA spook:
He sees you when you're sleeping.
He knows the books you've read.
He knows the things you going to do,
So be good--or you'll be dead.

Wenatchee the Hatchet said...

I remember Mark mentioning the heretic-punching Santa somewhere back around 2005. My relatives who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy share the slapping Santa story once in a while.

Anonymous said...

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why
Santa Claus is tapping your phone!