Santa Claus & evolution - centuries in the making;
fairytales so full of lies, they'll leave your heart a-quaking.
Fight against these Cultural Idols enthronéd hitherto,
and the Guardians of Fairytales will soon come after you!
Santa Claus and theistic evolution – dare a comparison be made? Let us attempt to overcome the long-held myth the Santa Claus is simply St. Nicholas with some added insulation and a reindeer crew. To assist us, we will read from the 1956 work of Fr. Weiser dealing with the infusing of the home with the Liturgy:
Many people think that Santa Claus is St. Nicholas ‘in disguise.’ Actually, the two figures have nothing in common except the name. When the Dutch came to America and established the colony of New Amsterdam, their children enjoyed the traditional "visit of St. Nicholas" on December 6, for the Dutch had kept this ancient Catholic custom even after the Protestant Reformation. Then, when England founded the colony of New York in the same territory, the kindly figure of Sinter Klaas (pronounced like Santa Claus) soon aroused the desire among the English children of having such a heavenly visitor come to their own homes, too. The English settlers were glad and willing to comply with the anxious wish of their children. However, the figure of a Catholic Saint and bishop was not acceptable in their eyes, especially since many of them were Presbyterians, to whom a "bishop" was repugnant. Also, they did not celebrate the feasts of Saints according to the ancient Catholic calendar. The dilemma was solved by transferring the visit of the mysterious man whom the Dutch called Santa Claus from December 6 to Christmas, and by introducing a radical change in the figure itself. It was not merely a "disguise," but the ancient Saint was completely replaced by an entirely different character. Some clever mind invented this substitution in the eighteenth century. Behind the name Santa Claus no longer stands the traditional figure of St. Nicholas, but the pagan Germanic god Thor (after whom Thursday is named). To show the origin of the modern Santa Claus tale, let us give some details about the god Thor from ancient Germanic mythology: ‘Thor was the god of the peasants and the common people. He was represented as an elderly man, jovial and friendly, of heavy build, with a long white beard. His element was fire, his color red. The rumble and roar of thunder were said to be caused by the rolling of his chariot, for he alone among the gods never rode on horseback, but drove in a chariot drawn by two white goats (called Cracker and Gnasher). He was fighting the giants of ice and snow, and thus became the Yule-god. He was said to live in the "Northland," where he had his palace among the icebergs. The pagans considered him as the cheerful and friendly god, never harming humans, but rather helping and protecting them. The fireplace in every home was especially sacred to him, and he was said to come down through the chimney into his element, the fire (See H. A. Guerber, Myths of Northern Lands, Vol. I, p. 61ff., New York, 1895).’ Here, then, is the true origin of our "Santa Claus." It certainly was a stroke of genius that produced such a charming and attractive figure for our children from the withered pages of pagan mythology. With the Christian Saint, however, whose name he still bears, this Santa Claus has really nothing to do. To be honest and historically correct, we would rather have to call him "Father Thor," or some such name (Fr. Francis Wesier, Religious Customs in the Family: The Radiation of the Liturgy into Catholic Homes, 1956).
Is Fr. Weiser onto something? A pagan god (or rather a demon according to Ps. 95:5) with two goats sliding in for a replacement of the Bishop of Myra?
‘But I’ve never seen two goats with the fat man in red?’
Perhaps the search that was needed was one outside of the 19th and 20th century. Let us take a look:
And now for
Two reindeer and some magic - maybe some fanciful flying for the newly replaced goats?
A transformation indeed. But where is there room for comparison with theistic evolution? Just as Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and a host of elf minions grab at our heartstrings for attention and replace, ever so slightly at times, the true historical narrative of the coming of the second Adam in the cave in Bethlehem, so too does theistic evolution pull at our intellect for the true historical narrative of the origins of and creation of the first Adam in Paradise.
Part 2 to come...
This was originally sent out as our newsletter on December 15th, 2023. It can be viewed here.