On September 21st, 1897, The New York Sun published an editorial that has become one of the most widely read letters in American history. What started as a simple question turned into an answer about faith, love, and the spirit of the season. We invite our readers to enjoy it again:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Clause?
115 W. 95th St.
To which The Sun editorial writer Francis Pharcellus Church responded:
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10 thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
I don’t like lying to the little kids If there is no Santa Claus there probably is no Jesus or even God either So its better to just gradually let the people down , right .
Wrong. I agree with you that it’s not nice to lie to children. Apparently you missed the point of Mr. Churches letter and for that I’m sad for you. There is a spiritual side of life that brings joy to you when you do something nice for someone else and diminishment to your spirit when you “put one over ” on someone. Getting the point of the editorial is something that no one can give you.That is your choice alone to decide.
Betty Robinson says
Thank you, Mike, for a wonderful explanation. Santa teaches children the joy of receiving and giving gifts and having fun while we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. Bake a birthday cake, write Happy Birthday Jesus and sing the Happy Birthday song to Jesus. It teaches Faith, Hope and Love to all children, young & old.
My Bible says, all good things come from God. And I believe it. So if it is so then the real Santa is our Heavenly Father. The Creator and sustainer of the universe and every thing in it. Merry Christmas. Remember He gave his life to save us from our sins.
Joyce Luna says
When I was 12 years of age my mom, aunt, and grandmother tried to have me to believe there was a Santa Claus by having one of the Santa who worked at Sears , come to our house after my brother and I had gone to bed. There was a loud noise in the front yard then a big Ho! Ho! Ho! , it scared me half to death and I hid under the cover. My grandmother and aunt were outside looking in my bedroom window and laughing themselves silly.
Now had I been younger it would not have been so bad but………I was too old to believe it and found it was a lie, so I was a little on the mad side.
I told my children that Santa Claus was real if you wanted him to be, but mama and dad paid for their gifts, and wrapped them as they wrapped our gifts. That Christmas was a National Holiday for families, get togethers and eat together with our families who lived close by and those in other states came to visit.
I am a realist and do not believe in telling our children lies, because that sets some children not to believe anything their parents say. My dad I will apologize for him, he never told my brother and me that lie.
You are welcome in the USA to tell your children what you want I believe in the truth.
Once upon a time when days were long and summers endless, young minds were allowed
to freely imagine of Santa and pleasant wonderments without multiple distractions such as computers, TV, and assorted electronic gadgets that occupy most of our time today, along with constant reminders of the evils that surround us. Seniors sadly remember what our younger generation missed out on…a slower pace of life surrounded by common closeness and trusting friendships with kin and neighbors alike. We managed to gain much about the true values of life through trust, loyalty, lasting companionship, and long continuous days of mutual enjoyment with and for each other. Simply said, there was a more peaceful tranquility in our time, and safer surroundings. We were fortunate. ~ KRM ~