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What to Tell Your Kids About Santa Claus

Christmas is the only time of year when it’s generally considered OK to lie to your children! It’s an American tradition and it gets them to behave! We have no problem telling Billy that if he stops throwing a fit then when the man in the red suit comes for a visit he will leave presents instead of coal.

Christina and I decided to diverge from mainstream American culture on this issue and instead just tell our children the truth!

This is what we tell them about Santa Clause:

  • He doesn’t live in the North Pole
  • He doesn’t give good kids presents
  • He doesn’t come down the chimney

On the other hand:

  • He was a real person

He is often called Saint Nickolas or Nickolas of Myra, where he served as a bishop. He was born in Turkey around 270 and died on December 6, 343.  Today his bones lay at rest in a Basilica in Bari, Italy.
  • He gave gifts to children

He was known for his generosity and often gave gifts secretly to those in need but he didn’t limit his gift giving to children.
  • He believed in Jesus

The reason for his generosity was simple, he believed in Jesus and was compelled to follow his example of love! He was such a fierce follower of Jesus that some say he slapped Arius in the face at the council of Nicea when he denied that Jesus was God!

The real Saint Nickolas

It’s ironic that the contemporary version of Saint Nickolas is oddly silent about his faith.

Rather than just going along with cultural flow we need to stop and think for a minute about what we are teaching our children. They need to know the truth! Christmas is about Jesus!

Saint Nickolas can serve as a great example of a faithful follower of Jesus but he should never be raised above that.

And by the way, December 6th is Saint Nickolas Day so Happy Saint Nickolas Day!

Question: What do you tell your kids about Santa Claus? How do you help your kids keep Jesus as the center of Christmas?

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I am a pastor, missionary, and preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Ukraine since 2007. God blessed me with a wonderful wife and 5 amazing children!

My greatest passion is to teach, encourage, and exhort others to turn to Jesus, who is Savior, Lord, and God!

  • Elizabeth

    I had to read this when I saw it because my husband and I were just talking about this the other day. Oddly enough it came up when some LDS missionaries were at our house and they brought up Santa Claus (we like to invite the missionaries in and hold discussions with them about the critical few (the Gospel, salvation, the Trinity) not to bash them but to tell the true message of Jesus…thank you Share the Son ministries for some excellent training!). We also prefer to tell our kids the truth but they are young enough this is the first year we have had to really address it. Next year we will be celebrating (though small) St. Nikolas Day in honor of the real man and continue to keep Christmas about Jesus. This year we started a Jesse Tree in anticipation of Christ’s birth and I love it as do the kids. I have never believed in Santa Claus (as he is celebrated in today’s culture) and feel that it is important not to lie to my kids. Great post that I will share with my husband.

    • Elizabeth, I think sometimes parents go the Santa route just because it seems funner. Blessings on your family, it sounds like you are doing a great job. How old are you kids?

      Btw, I’ve never heard of a Jesse Tree. What is it? How do you do it?

  • Nancy


  • It’s not too late to start your Jesse Tree. Here’s a link for a good PDF file.

    I hope it comes through for you. The kids can color the ornaments.

    • Thanks for the link Debbie! I think I’ll print it out tonight!

  • Amy

    We tell our kids every year how “Santa Claus is a NICE story that many people enjoy. We as a family prefer to celebrate to birth of the Savior.” Thanks for this great information I was able to share with them this morning. Generosity is a great identifier of our faith to a hurting world!

    • The story of a Savior is most certainly what we should focus our children’s attention on for Christmas. In fact, I’m pretty sure Saint Nickolas would agree!

  • Amy

    Thanks, We just printed out our Jesse Tree ornaments!