We don’t often associate Christmas with resurrection. But we should.
So let’s start by talking about Santa Claus. Christmas is openly under attack in contemporary society where the word has essentially been banned in favor of “holiday” and traditional Christmas carols have been replaced by music that does not even jingle anymore but rather rattles. However, the “reason for the season” cannot be completely erased even if it is deliberately ignored. The apparently innocuous word “holiday” cannot hide its original meaning of “holy day.”
And even though the offensive baby lying in a lowly manger has been removed, the figure that has come instead to represent the holiday is still thoroughly Christian and even more problematically Catholic. He is a fat fellow who magically comes down chimneys and then sneaks away having left all sorts of gifts. But as G.K. Chesterton, another fat fellow, reminds us: “The Santa Claus who commits a sort of saintly burglary at this time of the year is, of course, the St. Nicholas who was the patron saint of children.”
This ancient Turkish saint drew a devotion that spread across the continents and the centuries. He became so beloved in Germany that his Germanized name is used by English-speaking people. And while we’re at it, we should point out that the German Christmas carols are among the best, and they’re not about Santa Claus.
But before we talk about the miracle that St. Nicholas is most famous for, we should talk about magic.
Magic has a bum rap among Catholics. They avoid the word as much as their secularist counterparts avoid the word “Christmas.” And yet the word catches up with them, just as “holiday” catches up with the people trying avoid the Holy Day. Consider that those three mysterious figures we now generically call The Wise Men were originally known as The Magi, and it’s not hard to figure what the word is connected to. They were seekers of signs and wonders. They were wise because they were looking for a miracle, something supernatural.
Read more at Catholic World Report