Answer by Michelle**
So once you know that Mormons do celebrate Christmas, a follow-up question could be what Mormons do about Santa Claus.
First of all, make no mistake. The name of our church — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — reiterates that Jesus Christ is at the center of our religion. As such, we as Mormons seek to keep the Savior, Jesus Christ, at the center of our Christmas. You can read more about different Christmas traditions to help keep a focus on Christ during the Christmas season. More ideas for keeping Christ in Christmas can be found here, and a wonderful list of 10 ideas can be found at lds.about.com.
I think it’s safe to say that a good majority of Mormons’ traditions include Christmas trees and stockings and gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. How and where Santa plays into that process will vary depending on the family.
When I was a young child, Santa Claus was “real” and was part of our Christmas celebration. There were always presents “from Santa” under the tree in addition to presents from my parents. My mom is one who loves Christmas with a childlike giddiness, so I’m pretty sure that gifts were signed by Santa long after I knew Santa was actually Mom and Dad.
My husband, on the other hand, grew up always knowing that Santa wasn’t the one doing presents. This was a deliberate choice made by his parents.
As you might imagine, having such different experiences growing up, my husband and I had a few interesting conversations about what we would do in our home.
I think the different experiences my husband and I had illustrate that you can find a range of opinions about Santa among Mormons. Some feel allowing children to believe in Santa provides some magic for the holidays. Others worry about whether it might be traumatic for children in some way to find out that Santa isn’t real. Some are perhaps a bit indifferent about it all.
And others will tell you that they do believe in Santa Claus. For example, read “I Believe in Santa” to see what I mean. You’ll be glad you did. It’s a beautiful post that I think sums up how we feel about the spirit of Christmas and what we hope to capture in whatever traditions we may choose.
What have you done in your family about Santa Claus? What do you do to help keep a focus on Christ during the holidays?
**Please note: The answers in “Ask a Mormon Woman” reflect the thoughts, perspectives, and experiences of individuals. Although here at Mormon Women: Who We Are, we strive to have our content consistent with the Church’s doctrine and teachings, we do not speak officially for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For official information about or from the Church, please visit www.mormon.org/faith or www.lds.org.
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Here’s a statement from LDS Church Apostle Boyd K. Packer that supports the sentiment of this article:
“I want to emphasize that I have no quarrel with that well-fed gentleman with the red suit and the white whiskers. He was very generous to me when I was a boy, and we are looking forward with great anticipation to his visit at our home next Monday night. The tree is there, the holly wreath, the stockings hung along the fireplace mantle — it is a very long mantle. I know of few things on this earth quite so celestial as the face of a little youngster, happy, hopeful, and believing, with Christmas almost here. All of those things with reference to Christmas are appropriate and good and all of them are for children — except, I suppose, the mistletoe.
“If you would understand what you get in exchange for giving up the childish illusion concerning Christmas, you could look forward to the greatest of all discoveries. If you could just know that at your age you can find and can have that ‘little-kid’ feeling again about Christmas. If you understand Christmas at all, you will find that in exchange for Christmas past comes the most supernal of all gifts. If you want to know a good beginning point, I suggest you start in the second chapter of Luke… (reads Luke 2:1-19).
“The Christmas story in the second chapter of Luke takes, I suppose, a minute and a half to read. It might take a minute more to ponder on it. Yet how infrequently, how remarkably infrequently does that find its way into the family festivities at Christmas time.
“The Christmas story does not end there. It is only the beginning. If we can accept as adults a new childhood status with reference to our God, then we will begin to humble ourselves and begin to believe, and so begin to see. In exchange for the fanciful poetry of The Night Before Christmas comes the miracle that grows in every season.
“The whole account — from Bethlehem to Calvary — is the Christmas story, and it takes simple, childlike, almost naive faith to know it….
(Boyd K. Packer, “Keeping Christmas”, BYU Devotional, December 19, 1962)
That’s a perfect quote to address the question. Thank you for sharing it!
So Santa Claus is the saint of the protestants. Sorry guys, but I was born and raised a Jew. For me this red guy is an idol and pagan. Why don’t you use a real character of the Bible. Santa Claus is a thunder god of the German Mythology. I am still waiting to see and feel the spirit of Christmas – nobody has convinced me yet without this Santa, the elves, and who knows who else. Jewish people don’t mix religion with paganism. I don’t see the point of this magic world for children. When I was a little girl my heroes were King David, Queen Esther, Ruth, Mathias Maccabeus, among others. These people really existed. To each his own!
“Sorry guys, but I was born and raised a Jew. For me this red guy is an idol and pagan. Why don’t you use a real character of the Bible….When I was a little girl my heroes were King David, Queen Esther, Ruth, Mathias Maccabeus, among others. These people really existed. ”
Ruth, it’s wonderful to read about how your childhood focused on learning about heroes in scripture. I confess to being a bit surprised, though, that you translate this post into thinking that somehow we make Santa our hero, or that our children aren’t also pointed to scriptural, real heroes.
But I do understand how hard it is with all the commercialization of Christmas, songs that have no religious meaning, etc, that it can be hard to sense the real meaning of Christmas in a larger scale. But please know that for Mormons, the most important meaning of Christmas (and in our day-to-day lives all year long) is to focus on our scriptures and the truths and people and lessons therein, and to try to find ways to serve and help others. If you were to come to our Christmas church meetings, listen in on family scripture studies around Christmastime (and all year long, for that matter), I would hope that you might be able to catch a little more of a glimpse of what really matters to us as our core. And that maybe we aren’t so different in what kinds of things matter most to us. 😉
One of the reasons I left Mormonism (and turned to true Christianity) is that Mormons say they follow Christ but do NOT (it makes no difference that Christ is in the name of their church. You can brand the word HORSE on a cow, but the cow does not magically become a horse). This starts with Mormon leadership, and Boyd K. Packer a so-called apostle is okay with the whopping lie of Santa (this is no small lie, it goes on for years)! God gives us ALL we have, and he is a jealous God – the scriptures are clear. There is no place for Santa Claus in the life of a Christian. Mormons need to repent to and turn to Christ, and that starts with their leaders. Mormon kids even write letters to Santa. Hey, such letters are prayers! Have you considered that? Kids pray to Santa when they write him telling him what they want. Shame on Boyd K. Packer for not exposing this lie. God wants us to pray to him, not write letters to pagan icons. I am shocked and appalled the LDS leadership doesn’t put an end to this nonsense.
Ruth is right on the money when it comes to this.
I know I’m a little late to this conversation but Santa Claus is very real, not “was.” Santa Claus gets his origins from Saint Nicholas – look it up. The imagery of Santa changes from country to country and some even call him Papa Noel or Father Christmas. The tradition of Santa Claus over time has become something to a whole bunch of us and understandably for others nothing at all. With that said….
What’s the difference between asking Santa for something once a year or asking God for a number of things great and small throughout the year. In our youth our priorities are different (for the majority), but as we grow older our priorities change. From toys to peace on earth, good health, speedy recoveries, etc.. There is no difference. God comes to us in many forms even in the form of Santa Claus or Father Christmas if you will. Santa doesn’t replace, he’s accompaniment to. Santa doesn’t appear in scriptures, but neither do you or I. Santa is just as real as God. Just as real as you and I. 😉
Thank you for another example of how perspectives on this vary widely among people of faith. 🙂