Is there a Santa Claus?

In 1897, a little girl wrote a letter to the editor of the New York 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 West Ninety-Fifth Street.

The response has been published thousands of times since the Sun responded to little Virginia. This version ran in a local newspaper on December 20, 1922:

IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?

It is the same eternal question. And how often will be asked? Just as long and as often as Christmas comes. You will be asked and thousands more, and little children will be answered and reassured and made happy just as was the little girl who put her question to the great editor, Charles A. Dana. She sought high authority when someone abused her faith in childhood’s patron saint to fail, and this is what the famous editor wrote her. It is the answer that we know:–

“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 to 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, measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clans. 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. There would be no childlike faith, 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 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 here are unseen and unseeable in the world. You may tear apart the babe’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. It is 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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