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Hi, dear friends and followers. This entry is about, do you believe in Santa Clause? The same as asking, Do you believe in the unseen? Please read on and decide for yourself.
Yes, Virginia, a Thousand Times Yes
By THOMAS VINCIGUERRA
Published: September 21, 1997
By THOMAS VINCIGUERRA
Published: September 21, 1997
IT was exactly 100 years ago today when The New York Sun responded to the plaintive inquiry of Virginia O'Hanlon, an 8-year-old whose ''little friends'' had told her the unthinkable when she returned to school that fall. ''Please tell me the truth,'' Virginia wrote at the urging of her father, a New York City policeFor all who are pure of heart, ''Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus'' has been the only possible answer since Sept. 21, 1897, when the world learned something about the power of journalism and of the human capacity to believe.
surgeon and deputy coroner. ''Is there a Santa Claus?''
'' 'Yes, Virginia' is the ultimate feel-good editorial,'' said John Tebbel, a former chairman of the New York University journalism department. But ''Yes, Virginia'' -- both the phrase and the editorial -- resonates beyond Dec. 25. Translated into some 20 languages and even set to music, the editorial somehow evokes a universal recognition of mystical affirmation, be it of the painfully obvious or the painfully remote.
The author was Francis Pharcellus Church, a sardonic Columbia College
Viewed critically, Mr. Church's magnum opus is a sentimental mix of tautology, syllogism and fantasy. ''If I saw it cold,'' said the author's cousin, Richard Church Thompson of Gaithersburg, Md., ''my temptation would be to shorten it up. Every time I read it, I get hung up on the word 'supernal.' '' (It means heavenly, by the way.)
But it is
William David Sloan, a journalism professor at the University of Arkansas, once put it this way in The Masthead, the journal of the National Conference of Editorial Writers: ''Had he denied Santa Claus, he might have torn down the fanciful world of many youngsters and tampered with the values and traditions many people consider important. Had he affirmed Santa Claus matter-of-factly, he would have contributed no ideas of lasting significance. What Church did was sustain a child's hope while giving her a statement of ideals that are worthwhile for the adult. He did not simply continue a myth. He gave a reason for believing.''
The historian Stephen Nissenbaum thinks ''Yes, Virginia'' is concerned not so much with faith in Santa Claus as with faith in faith. ''The late 19th century was a period of vexing religious doubt for many middle-class Americans,'' Mr. Nissenbaum wrote in ''The Battle for Christmas'' (Knopf, 1996), ''and one characteristic solution was to think that God must exist simply because people so badly needed Him to.'' When Mr. Church referred to ''the skepticism of a skeptical age,'' Mr. Nissenbaum said in an interview, he was speaking to grown-ups.
''Yes, Virginia'' has, of course, outlived its two principals (Mr. Church died in 1906, Virginia in 1971).
Could ''Yes, Virginia'' be written today? Yes, said Stephen Simurda, a journalism professor at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, but ''whether anyone would notice it, sadly, I doubt it. Unless someone bought the rights and made a TV movie.''
Bob Haiman, president emeritus of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Fla., and the chairman of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize jury for editorial writing, said: ''Do you suppose there are any 8-year-olds left in America who still believe in Santa Claus? One can only hope. And after all, hope is what good editorial pages are all about.''
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 West 95th Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what 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 they 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
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, fancy, 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 he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
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