Many children today know Santa Claus as that jolly man in red who delivers presents to children on Christmas Eve. But the legend of Santa stretches back hundreds of years.
Childhood is magical
During childhood, imagination blurs the line between fantasy and reality, making it easier for children to believe.
The idea of believing without seeing is fundamental to being human, long after beliefs of Santa end. Our brains are wired to connect the dots in order to explain why things happen and why they are the way they are.
Creating Christmas traditions
For many families, if Santa was a part of their own childhood Christmases, parents may likely want to continue this with their own children.
The tradition of Santa Claus may begin with writing letters to him and visiting him at local malls. Then on Christmas Eve, some families prepare a delicious plate of cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer.
Discovering the truth
While there are many benefits to protecting children’s belief in Santa, it’s not OK to lie to children about his existence.
Most children have a positive reaction to their Santa discovery. Discovering the truth about Santa is part of growing up and a sign that the child is developing critical thinking skills.
Rite of passage
When children ask whether Santa is real, it’s important for parents to decide whether the child is ready to let go of the fantasy. When your children start asking these questions, let them lead the discussion. Asking them their thoughts about Santa and if they believe will provide you with some ideas of how to respond.
You don’t want to lie to them. It is important children learn to trust their parents. These early relationships are important for children in developing strong relational connections which will last a lifetime.
But you might decide to talk to them about choosing to keep welcoming Santa as a family to keep the tradition alive beyond early childhood and to develop a unifying family tradition.