The Spirit of Santa Claus lives on
The spirit of Santa Claus lives on thanks in part to this exchange in a 1897 newpaper between a young reader and an editor.
Virginia O'Hanlon will go down in history for having asked the following question to the editor of the New York Sun in 1897:
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 Claus?
Francis P. Church
Francis P. Church, a veteran editor who had covered the civil war for the New York Times, was the editor on the New York Sun in 1897 who answered Virginia with this proclamation:
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 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 our, 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 of 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 external 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 hiremen to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but that is no sign 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, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Ah, Virginia. in all this world there in nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
Graphic: Thomas Nast “Merry Christmas to All”
Harper’s Weekly, December 29, 1865
Edited by Tom Peracchio - Questy.us
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