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Author Topic: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief  (Read 11052 times)

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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2012, 05:24:02 PM »
We used a pillowslip with a Christmas picture on it as our 'Santa Sack' which was filled with little toys, books etc.  Santa didn't wrap anything at our house.

I found out when I was 8, and a child at school said, 'Santa's not real, it's just your Mum and Dad.' I remember thinking, "Of course it is." And that was that.

My brother who is two years older than me, was tarumatised when I told him about it on Christms Eve.

I don't think I'd bother doing Santa with my kids - a mixture of religious belief and the objection to lying, but DH really wants to do it. When and if they ask, though, I'll tell them the truth.


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2012, 05:32:12 PM »
I was raised without Santa Claus. We had a few Santa books, and a few times got taken to sit on his lap, but my sister and I were never believers. We grew up in horse country, and our parents had a nice little wooden manger that I think my Dad got in Germany. The week before Christmas, we'd go to a few neighbors with horses, and ask if we could have some straw from their barns for Baby Jesus' manger. We kept a baby doll in the manger during the week, but the doll vacated on Christmas Eve, once we got back from church and opened one present apiece. One Christmas morning, we were allowed to open our stocking presents in the family room, but not allowed to enter the living room until our parents decided to come down (thankfully, usually around 6 or 7). All presents were marked from Mom or Dad or Aunt or Uncle or Godparent. We had been told that kids believed in Santa being magic, rather than a saint who had lived in the 4th century, so we had to play nice and not tell them that Santa didn't visit our house.

We had one nanny who was horrified that we didn't believe in Santa Claus, even though we were only 8 and 6. She put on so much sprightly cheer over what was Santa going to bring us that we couldn't bear to disappoint her, and left out cookies and milk, and slept in front of the fireplace to try to "catch" him. We even went through the charade of writing a thank you note for all the presents she had marked "From Santa", even though we knew they were from Dad, and we thanked him accordingly. I wouldn't say it damaged my childlike wonder and innocence.

Flora Louise

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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2012, 06:49:33 PM »
Flora Louise, it's been made into a song apparently.

Aw. That's my childhood.
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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2012, 07:07:45 PM »
Our stockings were filled by Santa, and we received one or two gifts from him.  Any other presents were from family. My mother always wrapped the Santa gifts in different paper and wrote with her left hand (as do I). We were allowed to sneak down and take our stockings back to our beds, but no presents until mom and dad were up.

I have no trauma or memory of 'finding out'. I did love, as the oldest, being 'in' on it, and helping my mother put out the presents for the little ones - it made me feel very grown up.

I cannot imagine, even now at age 51, Christmas without the magic of Santa!


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #19 on: December 11, 2012, 07:10:34 PM »
I didn't believe in Santa, but we used to visit him at the mall for pics every year.  He was a fun part of the holidays, but we always knew he wasn't real.  DD is still too young to "get" Santa, but DH feels strongly that we should encourage her to believe.  I'd prefer not to, but I don't feel as strongly as he does, so I'll probably let him have his way.


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #20 on: December 11, 2012, 07:17:47 PM »
My Dad dressed up as Santa every year and I sat on his lap, telling him what I wanted. I figured out it was him when I was 4 and I noticed Santa was wearing my Dad's boots.


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2012, 07:28:26 PM »
I am 25 and I still get gifts from Santa! He also fills our stockings and hides our pickle ornament. My mother isn't the sentimental type nor is she really into holidays so it has always amazed me that she still keeps it up. I am pretty sure most of it is my dad because he always has fun with festive things. When I was younger Santa and my parents each gave about the same number of gifts but now he gives fewer.

One day I was looking for something in the basement and found Santa's wrapping paper and that is when I stopped believing but I had been questioning for awhile at the point. I think my dad labeled the Santa presents by writing with his left hand so that was never a clue but I did always wonder why Santa had such bad handwriting given how much practice he must have had!


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2012, 07:30:14 PM »
Great thread! My extended family is quite religious and in fact my dad is a minister; but we always had Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc.. It never bothered me that there were multiple meanings for a single holiday (religious and secular). At one point when I was quite young I really believed Santa was literally true and would be amazed and thrilled when some of the cookies we'd left out were gone. I didn't have any particular "moment" when I realized otherwise, it was more of a gradual thing--recognizing the handwriting on the presents (funny how common that is--parents probably don't think their kids would recognize their handwriting that well!), trying to reconcile the idea of "presents for all the good girls and boys" with all the toy drives and poverty in the world, seeing all the different variations of Santa in pop culture, etc.. I'm an only child so there wasn't anyone for me to "preserve the magic" for, but I also knew better than to go around blabbing to other kids about my opinions.

I still think it's a fun, magical way of playing pretend and I never considered it lying, sacrilegious, misdirecting gratitude, etc.. I'm certainly not saying others are wrong to think so, just that this wasn't my experience, and if I had kids I'm sure I would try to set up the same thing for them. I do know a few people who are "militant Santa" who have really elaborate ways of supporting the facade, including codewords, and they get really, really angry at even accidental suggestions that it might not be literally true (around their kids). Personally I think that's taking things a bit far, and I could see how if someone was familiar with a tradition like this, they might find it less than charming.

Anyway... I think I got multiple gifts from Santa, and also gifts from my parents. I don't remember any particular formula for it. We always did stockings first, then ate breakfast, then went into the living room with the tree to open the presents. All of the presents were wrapped. With only three of us in the household sometimes givers did not bother to write who the package was for and there were occasional gift mix-ups. :) We never had much success at getting the stockings to "hang" so they tend to be propped up against the wall or laid out on the floor. I always do both my parents' stockings on Christmas Eve (both will give me items for the other one, if they have any) and then I cover them with a blanket, leaving mine out to be filled by my mom. My mom made all of our Christmas stockings by hand as well as many for our extended family, which is really nice I think.

We always have to travel two hours to see my mom's family on Christmas Day, a tradition I grow more and more tired of as fewer and fewer people attend, and we travel the farthest, so we have to rush through our own Christmas morning celebrations in order to leave on time, especially if the weather's bad. Sometimes we only open a few tree presents and then do the rest when we get back home that evening.

Also my mom and I give each other ridiculous numbers of presents, so we usually start opening a few in the days leading up to the 25th. We are not at all strict about it. I usually bring all the presents I'm giving to my parents' house a few days before the 25th and wrap them there. I still label things as being from "Santa" sometimes, if I get bored writing my name; also my dad, who is very difficult to shop for, is fond of buying things himself, for himself, and then giving them to me to wrap, so he can later open them, and I always claim that those are from Santa. We like to exclaim over the wrapping and the bows and read the "To" and "From" aloud. Actually it's mostly me and my mom, and my dad gamely plays along for as long as he can, then he gets bored and goes to watch TV while we continue on. ;)


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2012, 07:59:48 PM »
Our Santa presents were unwrapped. The handwriting didn't match our parents because Dad would write it with his left (he was a right hander). Sis would get an apple, I would get an orange in my stocking.

When Sis (4 years younger) started asking questions - Mom realized I hadn't asked questions. She gently approached the subject. I had figured it out years before - but why tip the boat. Mom laughted that I knew what side of the bread my butter was on.

(Same thing happened with the birds and bees talk.)
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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2012, 08:53:30 PM »
My mom made all of our Christmas stockings by hand as well as many for our extended family, which is really nice I think.

That's something else we did that still kind of seems like a big deal to me. It's always surprised me when people don't really care about Christmas stockings, or when they don't really have them. My mom's grandmother made her and her siblings all these really awesome felt stockings with their name and year of birth embroidered on the cuff, and appliques of toys (with sequins) sewn onto the main part of the stocking. My aunt made matching stockings for my siblings and I and for her children. So we've always hung them up (usually on a shelf, as we never had a fireplace or any sort of mantle-type thing), and always had stuff in them (even if it wasn't much as we got older).

I've been trying to make stockings for my SIL and husband, and now my niece and nephew for a few years. I haven't managed it yet, because I had to make the pattern, and learn to embroider, and then practice writing people's names so they would look nice (my cursive handwriting isn't very good). But I am going to get those stockings done one day, and then it will be really nice to be able to hang them all up at Christmas.


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2012, 09:16:06 PM »
We grew up with Santa.  I was the youngest child but my older siblings kept the spirit alive.  I do remember trying to stay up to wait for him when I was 5 going on 6 because I had started questioning.  But I fell asleep and my sisters came into the living room yelling "there he goes...did you see him, did you see him?" I refused to admit I had fallen asleep and missed him when they all "saw" him, so that kept him real for me for another year.

We always got 2 gifts from Santa but 3 or 4 from mom & dad. Santa gifts weren't wrapped just set out for us to find. Cookies and milk were left out. We never did stockings.  Mom always said it was because our presents from Santa were too big to fit into a stocking.  We continued to get one gift from Santa until mom passed away. 

With my kids, we wrap Santa gifts but it is always in Santa only paper.  Name tags were are computer generated to ellimate handwriting issues.  We do have stockings for all family members including the cats and dog. My DH made them.  A neighbor introduced reindeer food to the kids at around age 2 and 4 so that was added as a tradition.  A very specific Santa was always visited at the same mall because he was the real Santa and not one of the helpers santa needed. On Christmas Eve, santa's progress was tracked on the computer after reading 'twas a night before Christmas.  When questioned about Santa being real our answer was that we still believed and his spirit is real for those who choose to believe.

 The kids are in their teens now but they still get one Santa gift, something they have not asked or hinted for, just completely random item we think they will enjoy but will be a complete suprise. Like this year is 2 Taylor Swift tickets for my DD so she can invite a friend.

I never felt lied to and I'm sure my kids have no hard feelings about being deceived.  But there was never any of the "you must be good or Santa won't bring you gifts".  He was never used as leverage which is what I think can cause some resentment. 


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #26 on: December 11, 2012, 09:21:32 PM »
On a Christmas Eve when I was 4, I woke up to my parents talking in the living room. I poked my head out the bedroom, and sitting in the living room was Santa. I had a heart attack, and I had to go potty. Thankfully, the bathroom was just a couple steps out of my bedroom.

I knew, in my 4 y/o mind, that if Santa saw me, then I would not have any Christmas presents. I darted into the bathroom, left the door open, and the light off. I slid as far back on the toilet seat as possible, and when I was through, I didn't flush, just darted back into the bedroom.

To this day, I don't know who that was, and let me tell you, to see Santa in your house, will really mess up a belief to not believe.

On a side note, at my maternal grandparents, my Jewish grandfather always played Santa. You didn't see many houses at that time with both a Christmas tree and Menorah.


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #27 on: December 11, 2012, 09:52:05 PM »
Santa brought one gift (usually large or pricey, and usually something we didn't know we wanted but it was GREAT).

The first time I heard he might not be real was the year he dropped in early on Christmas Eve, talked to my parents and slipped me and orange with a wink. To this day Mom doesn't know who he "really" was, and didn't know I had been on the verge of disbelieving that year.

A year later, the parents had refinanced the house, and adopted three little boys. We didn't have much money for Christmras. We knew that parents had to pay Santa something, to pay his elves, as we'd heard the stories from Grandad, who grew up during the depression. It was going to be a small family Christmas, but better than anything my brothers had experienced up to that point. Then...there was a wild knocking and ringing at the door. None of us knew what was going on. Dad opened the door and there were THREE giant garbage bags full of wrapped gifts with all our names on them. They all said "from Santa" or "from Mrs. Claus" and "from the elves". Mom cried and we all screamed and that was the longest Christmas Eve Night of my life.

I believed in Santa until I was 10 and had the illusion shattered during a talk that also covered the birds and the bees. I had a hard time with it, but came to terms with it eventually. I wasn't going to do Santa with my kids, as I am a horrible liar and storyteller, but Jean (age 7) wanted to believe and has kept it alive. For the record, I pay more for teeth in person that the tooth fairy, and whether the bunny hides eggs or I do there are eggs hidden in the house on Easter. She believes in fairies and has a detailed, elaborate view of our world. If I tell her there is no such thing as vampires, she shrugs and says there are but we can't see vampire world from here. I have a feeling she will be getting stockings from Santa well into her 20's.  ;)
A real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems. CS Lewis


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #28 on: December 11, 2012, 11:10:35 PM »
Jones, what a neat story!

I grew up believing in Santa. We'd get a couple of gifts from Mom & Dad, but the majority of the gifts were from Santa. We got to open one Mom & Dad gift on Christmas Eve, which was usually pajamas to wear that night. I remember that whenever Mom and Dad got us clothes, they'd be too big so we could grow into them. But when Santa got us clothes, they always fit right. :)  Santa gifts were wrapped, but always in a different paper than from Mom and Dad, and they were divided into two piles on Christmas morning, one for each of us, so there was no handwriting to give anything away. We'd open presents first, then have stockings with just a few little gifts and candy. The stockings always had a Lifesavers candy book.

My parents told us about Santa when they figured my brother was getting old enough that he might get teased for still believing. We didn't believe them. I brought out my Childcraft Encyclopedia to show them that Santa had an entry, so he must be real. ;) They finally showed us a picture of them building a playhouse we'd gotten a few years before.

I still get presents marked from Santa, though. :)


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Re: Santa Claus Traditions and Belief
« Reply #29 on: December 12, 2012, 02:26:11 AM »
My mother was rather anti "Santa Claus" calling him an American import. We had Father Christmas come and visit. Now I'm older I realise that our Father Christmas came from the Norse tradition of Odin and was really rather pagan. Mistletoe, holly, yule logs and so on.