Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.


I'm cheating this week.  The following isn't my own, but I wish it was.  This famous editorial was originally published in the New York Sun on September 21, 1897, and is widely available on the internet today.
But no one under thirty I've spoken to in the last few years has heard of it or it's one-time famous proclamation.  The writing is antiquated, using the masculine for the collective whole, but it's the idea that still resonates.
The writer?  Francis Pharcellus Church (pictured).
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor—
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?
Virginia O’Hanlon
115 W. Ninety-Fifth Street
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 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 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.

Virginia O'Hanlon Douglas went on to a career as an educator that lasted nearly half-a-century.  Until she died in 1971, she would send a nice copy of the editorial to anyone who wrote to her.

Maybe one day I'll write something as good and as lasting.

See y'all next week!


  1. No one under 30? Not so, Rocky.
    Ask my eldest daughter. :-) She knows this story well.
    (she's 23)

  2. Rock, thank you for bringing back this timeless classic. I love to read it every Christmas. For me, it is as essential to the holiday season as Charlie Brown.

  3. That is so cool, Jamie. And, as always Food Czar, my pleasure!