The movie Miracle on 34th Street urged me as a kid to believe a man calling himself Kris Kringle really was Santa Claus. I wasn’t fooled.
Our parents labeled presents “From Santa,” perhaps to anonymize their gifts. Anonymous giving protects the recipient’s dignity, creates no obligation, keeps the donor humble, and allows both givers and receivers to credit the gift to the True Giver. The Lord tells us to give without hope for anything in return (Luke 6:32-36) and to give in secret without seeking praise (Matthew 6:1-4). Bishop Nicholas of Myra (later St. Nicholas) secretly dropped dowry money at night through the window of a pauper whose daughters had been unable to marry, but Nicholas was discovered by the waiting father. Ironically, Nicholas became famous for anonymous giving, and now people everywhere attach his name to secret gifts. If we give in secret, our Father who sees in secret will reward us openly (Matthew 1:3-4), and what is whispered in the ear will be shouted from the housetops (Luke 12:3).
If Nicholas was as good and humble as the stories say, he certainly is a saint (anyone who lives by the Lord’s truth; Apocalypse Revealed 526, 173) and is living today with other angels like him, and they are present wherever and whenever people seek to give selflessly. Yet he would have certainly been horrified that people pray to him as a saint and write to him for gifts, instead of to the Lord (Last Judgment 64). But perhaps the Lord permits worship of saints to preserve the idea of God as Human (Spiritual Experiences 4775, Apocalypse Explained 955.5).
Today’s Santa derives also from the Norse god Odin, father and ruler of all the gods and of humanity, creator of the world, and giver of life to Ask and Embla (the first humans). He is like Jove (from Jehovah?), the supreme Go among the Romans (True Christianity 9, 275). Odin was a gift- giver, and would ride through the sky on his eight-footed steed on a Wild Hunt during Yule.
Santa is “Kris Kringle” too, from “Krist Kindl” meaning “Little Christ Child.” In many Germanic areas it is the Baby Jesus (Christkind) who appears bringing gifts at Christmas. So Kris Kringle/Santa Claus who sees and knows all, visits the whole world on Christmas, and has unlimited power to give and do good, represents both Christ Child and the Father God in one person. Yet that representation is a shadow that vanishes when we see the Lord Jesus Christ in light as the Child who was born to be the Mighty God and Everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6, True Christianity 109). Is that why Santa comes from utter darkness at the North Pole, while Jesus Christ is the Sun of Heaven and the Light of the World?