Today, Santa Claus still brings toys and gifts to good little boys and girls around the world. Sometimes children have doubts about Santa Claus and wonder if he is real. One little 8 year old girl named Virginia O'Hanlon decided the way to find out if there really was a Santa Claus was to ask the best source she could find - the New York Sun newspaper. Virginia wrote a letter to the New York Sun newspaper in 1897. Virginia's letter and response are shown below written by the Sun editor, Francis P. Church.
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus
Quite naturally I believed in Santa Claus, for he had never disappointed me. But when less fortunate little boys and girls said there wasn’t any Santa Claus, I was filled with doubts. I asked my father, and he was a little evasive on the subject.
It was a habit in our family that whenever any doubts came up as to how to pronounce a word or some question of historical fact was in doubt, we wrote to the Question and Answer column in The Sun. Father would always say, "If you see it in the The Sun, it’s so," and that settled the matter.
“ Well, I’m just going to write The Sun and find out the real truth," I said to father.
He said, "Go ahead, Virginia. I’m sure The Sun will give you the right answer, as it always does. ”
And so Virginia sat down and wrote her parents’ favorite newspaper.
Her letter found its way into the hands of a veteran editor, Francis P. Church. Son of a Baptist minister, Church had covered the Civil War for The New York Times and had worked on the The New York Sun for 20 years, more recently as an anonymous editorial writer. Church, a sardonic man, had for his personal motto, “Endeavour to clear your mind of can't.” When controversal subjects had to be tackled on the editorial page, especially those dealing with theology, the assignments were usually given to Church.
Now, he had in his hands a little girl’s letter on a most controversial matter, and he was burdened with the responsibility of answering it.
“Is there a Santa Claus?” the childish scrawl in the letter asked. At once, Church knew that there was no avoiding the question. He must answer, and he must answer truthfully.
Originally published in 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?
Signed Virginia O'Hanlon
The answer as published in the New York Sun was:
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 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 hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you 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, 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 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.
My vote is to have Christmas traditions all year round. You see at
Christmas time most people at least the ones I have met, always change just a
little for the better around Christmas. I do not know whether or not it is the
great yuletide Christmas carols, the festive atmosphere everywhere you go, or just some
hidden part in all of us that screams out, (I BELIEVE IN MORE THAN WHAT I SEE AROUND ME.) You see, somewhere deep down inside we all
believe in something better than we now have or see, and most of
us feel a lot better when we help someone. Whether the person is
in need or not, this feeling is what I call the feeling of
Christmas, and we all should strive to feel this way all year long.
The feeling of the Christmas holidays is truly all about family, friends and celebrating all things good.
The Lord's birthday is swiftly coming
Christmas carols we're merrily humming,
Adoration and harmony spreads worldwide
As we eagerly await the happy Yuletide.
Enhance your Christmas, with Christmas poems
and stories highlighted with your favorite Christmas carols.
Christmas traditions are fast becoming a family way of life.
Poems are a simple way of inspiring others to join in on the Christmas
traditions that love and poems bring to this Christmas holiday.
We'll be thinking of you and yours on Christmas day
So I guess there's just one more thing to say,
May God bless you, your lifetime through,
Merry Christmas and a real Happy New Year.